Sports

Belfast show will be the best one yet, says Gallagher

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Belfast show will be the best one yet, says Gallagher thumbnailJames Gallagher will appear at the Bellator 173 MMA event at the SSE Arena in Belfast on February 24.

"IT'S gonna blow the one in Dublin out of the water. It's going to be the best one yet. Bellator will truly get to see what the Irish fans are about."

Those are the words of Strabane mixed martial arts star, James Gallagher, ahead of the Bellator 173 fight night at the SSE Arena in Belfast on February 24.

After wowing Irish fans at Bellator 169 in the 3 Arena in Dublin on December 16, life for the man dubbed 'The Strabanimal' has hit new heights, and that popularity led Bellator chief, Scott Coker, to announce the US company's first event in Northern Ireland, with Gallagher one of the main draws.

"It's just blew up since Dublin, it's crazy. It's gone but, and I'm just focusing on getting back into the gym," said Gallagher.

"I think the show in Dublin is going to be nothing compared to what this is going to be. It's going to be a completely different show."

Gallagher's victory over American Anthony Taylor in December pushed his undefeated professional record to five wins, and he believes 2017 is the year he will take his career to the next level.

"I'm gonna blow up now, especially after my next two or three fights. I've already set my name in there, they all know I'm coming for them. I've already made my mark."

And the 20-year-old wants to get his hands on a world title belt. "I want that belt, that's what I keep saying to them. I want hard fights and I want the belt. That's what I need."

Bellator 173 will give Gallagher's growing fan base in Ireland the chance to see him in action, and he says it's that support that keeps the rising star pushing for bigger and better things.

"It's just unbelievable the support. That's the kind of stuff that drives you on everyday. Knowing that all these people want to come along and see you do well. That's the kind of thing that wakes me up in the morning and gets me to the gym."

"There's people that see me and they don't even know my real name. They just know I'm the Strabanimal. It's funny but it also shows it is growing big. It's getting huge."

While Gallagher's opponent has not officially been announced, he has recently hinted via his Twitter account that Israeli fighter, Kirill Medvedovsky, was "the chosen one". Medvedovsky responded: "I am ready to come to Ireland and teach you to fight."

Gallagher had been due to fight Medvedovsky, who holds a 6-1 professional record, on the Bellator 163 card in November last year in Israel, but the Strabane man was removed from the bill in favour of the Bellator 169 event in Dublin.

After a two-week break over Christmas at home in Strabane with his family and friends, Gallagher has been hard at work again training in Dublin's Straight Blast Gym, home to renowned MMA coach, John Kavanagh, and global fighting superstar, Conor McGregor.

Gallagher has been putting in the hard hours to make sure he will be on top of his game in Belfast in February. The lifestyle is something Gallagher has grown used to, but he always ensures his focus and determination are 100 per cent on the run-up to events.

"It was nice to be back home. Now I'm back training everyday, two hours in the morning and an hour-and-a-half at night. Breaking myself in just.

"It's like a routine, like life really. Every couple of months you take six or seven weeks for each fight, and that's been the way it's been since I was signed. The training doesn't really change that much.

"Close to the fight, you've got the media.... Now it's beginning to be like routine, when that comes along it's like a moment to remember, 'right, it's fight time'."

Despite four of his five wins coming by submission, Gallagher believes his opponents would be foolish to think he is only capable on the mat.

"I know what I'm capable of, I know where my skills are. If people come in thinking I'm just a ju-jitsu guy, lets wrestle. They'll be in for a shock if they come in thinking like that. Buzz me in one area and I'll shock you in another."

Never short of confidence, the Strabanimal will be focusing on racking up another win rather than just thinking about preserving his undefeated record.

"It's not really something that plays on my mind. One fight at a time is the way I look at it. It's a record but I just want the belt and be known as the greatest ever. I'm not fighting to stay undefeated, it's more about just winning every time."

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