“We’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over.”
Those were the words of a certain Irishman from the UFC. The past couple of years have seen the rise of Irish MMA fighters on the international scene. From Joe Duffy and Paddy Holohan, to finally the coup de grace for the fighters from other countries, Conor McGregor, Ireland and Northern Ireland have produced some of the most exciting fighters.
One of such talents is SBG Ireland’s own James Gallagher.
“The Strabanimal” is considered to be one of the most exciting prospects in the world of MMA, and at just 20 years old, James is already fighting for one of the biggest MMA promotions in the world, Bellator MMA.
James, under the tutelage of John Kavanagh and training alongside some of the biggest names in the world of mixed martial arts – including a certain Conor McGregor, has already racked up five wins in his professional career. However, Gallagher also understands the importance of keeping a level head, and is excited to fight in his home country at Bellator 173.
“It’s amazing”, James told us in an exclusive interview, about fighting in front of the Irish faithful at Bellator 173. “I take great pride in Bellator for putting me in the co – main event going in. The last time in December when I fought, I had the whole event on my shoulders, and brought the biggest numbers in their international (event) history for Bellator. It’s the right step, and I take great pride in it.”
At just 20 years old, James is considered to be a future champion, and in Gallagher, Bellator MMA might’ve found their own version of Conor McGregor. James then talked about reaching unprecedented heights at just 20, but remained pragmatic, as he looks forward to what is in store.
“It feels great, but I’m a long way away from where I want to be. So I’m just going to keep working until I get there, and keep my head above my shoulders, and stay focused, and then I’ll get where I want to be.”
Gallagher will be taking on Kirill Medvedovski at Bellator 173, and Kirill, who is coming off two back to back losses, would want to get a ‘W’ in the win column. In his last fight, Kirill looked apprehensive going to the ground, and James stressed on the fact that no matter where the fight went, he would out class Kirill.
“He has a good striking background, and also has got brown belt in jiu jitsu. He has a good skill set, but I’m going to be too much for him everywhere – pressure on the feet, pressure in the clinch, and pressure on the floor. I’m just going to be too much for him, and it’s going to go downhill very quick. I’m going to go in, and I’m going to cut him off, and his brain will know that he’s not going to skip, and I’m just going to go at him and put him away.”
In his last fight, James Gallagher faced Anthony Taylor, and going into the fight, there was great animosity between the two fighters. However, Gallagher stressed on the fact that he does not care about liking or disliking his opponents, and once the cage door shuts, it’s just business for the Irishman.
“It makes no difference to me”, James added while talking about hatred giving him extra motivation going into a fight. “At the end of the day, I get to do what I love to do – what I get paid to do. It’s my job; I’m going to go in and fight anyway, irrespective of what they say or what they do, or whatever. It doesn’t matter; I’m going to show up on February 24th for the fight, and I’m going to get money to do that. It doesn’t matter who’s there; I’m going to find Kirill, I’m going to drag him in there and I’m going to beat his gloves off. It doesn’t matter who’s in there, I’m going to show up and I’m going to fight.”
James trains with the SBG Ireland team, under the watchful eye of John Kavanagh. James credits his coach for improving his skill set, and said he was grateful to his coach and his team mates, for the work they’ve put in with him.
“It’s phenomenal just to go in there. There’s every answer in the game, in the sport and my coach, John Kavanagh and I got all my team mates. Everything’s just there under one roof and I could keep quiet, learn and do to the best of my abilities that I can, and I’m forever grateful to my team and coaches.”
Bellator MMA has brought in some of the biggest names in the recent past, including the likes of Fedor, Sonnen and ‘The Red King’. Gallagher believes that it’s great for the sport, and had high praises for Scott Coker and Bellator MMA.
“It’s been great”, he told us about his time so far in the promotion. “Bellator is a great promotion, and I’m very happy to be a part of it. We’ve got a great relationship – they understand me and I understand them. It’s great, and I look forward to being here for a long time, I’ve got all the motivation in the world, and I’m going to win the world title.”
However, not everyone is pleased with the Irishman. Aaron Pico, the American wrestler recently took offence to Gallagher’s claims about ‘strangling’ the American wrestlers. Pico then threw a challenge, saying he would be more than happy to get his hands on Gallagher, and prove what the American wrestlers can do.
Talking about Pico, James laughed it off, saying, “He’s not getting near me. He needs to fight first; he doesn’t even have an MMA fight. So how can he come up and try and challenge me? That too in an MMA fight! He doesn’t even… it doesn’t make sense. I’m not going to go in there and say, “Here, I’m going to wrestle you”. I don’t wrestle – I do wrestle, but I’m an MMA fighter. That’s what he has got to do. He has to start competing in MMA, and fight in MMA and get to where I am. Then he can talk about a fight.”
While Gallagher is set to face Kirill tomorrow morning Indian time, he has his eyes firmly set on the world title, which he plans to get his hands on by the end of 2017.
“Get that world title – that’s what I am focused on. I’ve got another guy that I want to fight – but I will let it be known once I’m done (after my fight). I’ll let them know who I want, and that’s going to be that.”
James Gallagher also thanked his fans from around the world, and urged the Indian fans to watch Bellator 173.
“Make sure you tune in, and I’m grateful for all the support, everywhere in the world, no matter where it is, and I’m grateful for it, and I appreciate all the fans. Tune in, and enjoy the show.”