Belfast Telegraph

Motormouth Gallagher aims to back up claims with fists

 

By Peter Carroll

Ever since he moved from Strabane to Dublin to train under the watchful eye of John Kavanagh at Straight Blast Gym Ireland as a 15-year-old, there has been a considerable buzz surrounding James Gallagher.

He gained a reputation as prodigal jiu-jitsu player on the Irish scene in his teenage years. After clocking up an impressive amateur MMA record of 15-3, Gallagher had one of the most highly anticipated professional debuts in the history of the Irish scene, which he won with a first-round rear-naked choke of Denis Ahern in November 2015.

Two submissions later, he signed to one of the biggest promotions in the world, Bellator MMA. In his three fights under the banner thus far, he has been afforded co-main privileges in Belfast and Dublin, given the passionate fan base he has.

His 6-0 record will be given its most rigorous challenge at Madison Square Garden next Saturday when he meets 40-year-old Chinzo Machida, brother of former UFC champion Lyoto Machida.

Already one of the most polarizing fighters on the Bellator roster at 20-years-old, Gallagher is ready to launch his career to the next level with his performance at the iconic venue.

"This is the biggest thing that's ever happened in my life," Gallagher said.

"When I'm on top of Chinzo and I'm bursting him with elbows he's going to thinking 'Well, I've got my karate club back home', but there is no situation I can think of where I would want the fight to stop."

For Gallagher, there is no way that his opponent has the same hunger for the fight game at this stage in his career.

"He could stand all over my face and I'm still going to be in there asking if it's all he's got. That's the difference. I'm in here for World titles. I've got the youth and the confidence."

Like Conor McGregor, Gallagher's ability to cause a stir has made him one of the most talked about prospects. Whether fans like him or not, he forces a reaction-something that is worth its weight in gold in his industry.

"People say 'Oh, you're a Conor wannabe' - I just write back to them and tell them, 'Be original'.

"Even with 'Gunni' (Gunnar Nelson), I've seen people say to him 'You're a wannabe Irishman'-that's the most ridiculous s**t I've ever heard. I'm doing what I love. I'm fighting on the biggest show in the world in Madison Square Garden."

Belfast Telegraph

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