Harper Hawk eyes victory in upcoming MMA debut


Dominic Gallo at Midwest Training Center on November 29, 2022. (Photo by Anthony Lumbi)

If a Family Feud style survey was taken for the most terrifying or intimidating professions, it might include jobs like coal miners and high-rise window cleaners – but, without a doubt, the job of professional cage fighter would be a contender for the top spot.

And this Saturday, former Harper student Dominic Gallo will take a terrifying walk to that cage, where he’ll face another man who also has been practicing the craft of punching other men in the face.

Gallo, 26, wrestled at Harper College during 2016-17, and now trains at Midwest Training Center in Schaumburg. Other alumni include Clay Guida, UFC hall of famer, and Will Brooks, former Bellator Champion, both former Harper wrestling competitors.

“I met Clay Guida once. I don’t know if he remembers me, but he came into the wrestling room to show us some stuff,” Gallo recalled. 

Gallo also mentioned that he wrestles with Daniel James. James is a heavyweight fighter that just won at the most recent Bellator MMA event in Chicago on November 18, 2022.

Gallo finished his first two years of college at Harper in 2017 before transferring to Elmhurst University to continue wrestling and his studies in graphic design. 

Finding balance in life is important to Gallo. He enjoys photoshopping and oil painting in his free time. The rest of the time, Gallo trains five times a week and works part-time bartending at Cattleman’s Burger and Brew. What keeps him going is his work ethic– built from wrestling since he was 13.

“If you wanna be successful you gotta do it yourself,” Gallo said. “You gotta work as much outside of the wrestling room as you do in there.”

Gallo said he learned a lot during his time at Harper, lessons that he carries with him today, even if his initial feelings on pursuing a higher education were fraught with uncertainty and doubt. 

“I didn’t get any offers [from colleges]. I was a little bummed out because I didn’t know where to go, but on my first day there [Harper] I started liking it right away,” he explained.

Now with the hindsight that comes with being an alumnus, Gallo does admit to missing certain aspects of the school, one of those being NCJAA hall of fame coach Dan Loprieno. 

Loprieno has coached a litany of professional fighters from the UFC and Bellator. In his career at Harper, they has garnered 14 regional titles and six national titles under Loprieno’s leadership. 

“[Gallo] is a hard nose ‘SoB’ – just a tough kid with a heart, like clay, twice the size of his body,” Loprieno recalled with a grin.

Winning a white belt tournament in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu this past summer and rating his striking a “solid 8” out of 10, the hopes for the future are unknown but very bright for the welterweight from Palatine, who is more used to fighting in higher weight classes. 

“I wrestled at 184 so this is going to be lighter. I’m super light now because I’m kinda tightening it up and making it [the weight cut] go faster,” he explained. “I could probably get eight [pounds] off in one night.” 

Weight cutting is something that happens across all combat sports. It’s when athletes dehydrate and suck themselves down to classify as a lighter weight class ahead of a fight. 

With plans to make that welterweight limit and walk out to “Space Jam,” Gallo will look to slam his opponent on January 28 at Cicero Stadium. And though Gallo is a newer fighter, his training schedule of over 10 hours a week means he is fully committed to being a dangerous man in the most dangerous profession.

“I do want to have a pro card,” Gallo said with a smile. “So, we’ll see how it goes.”