Sports

Gallagher’s time to shine in New York

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Gallagher’s time to shine in New York thumbnailJames 'The Strabanimal' Gallagher will fight at the Bellator 180 fight night Madison Square Garden in New York.

IT IS just a few days until Strabane's very own James Gallagher walks out in lights at one of the most iconic sports arenas in the world, Madison Square Garden in New York.

The 'Strabanimal' will step into the octagon at Bellator 180, a mixed martial arts extravaganza that is set to propel the 20-year-old onto another level of global stardom.

Gallagher takes on Chinzo Machida in a featherweight match-up on a night that is headlined by MMA stars Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.

The fan favourite announced the news on his Instagram page back in March, relating to his journey from "St Pat's Hall" in Strabane to the big time in New York.

"The Strabanimal is coming to steal the show at 'the garden' NYC. 20 years old, fighting in the biggest fight venue in the world. I'm honoured to be able to represent my country, my team and my town of Strabane on the biggest show in the world. I'm coming here to steal the show. Thank you to my family and coaches and Bellator! The Irish are coming to New York!"

An undefeated up-and-comer holding a record of 6-0, Gallagher has already picked up a trio of Bellator wins, defeating Mike Cutting via unanimous decision, then submitting Anthony Taylor and Kirill Medvedovsky in Dublin and Belfast respectively.

He's out to preserve that record against Machida, the 40-year-old brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. A decorated karate artist, the elder Machida will no doubt prove to be a tough opponent for submission specialist Gallagher. In recent interviews though the Strabane man has vowed to go into the fight looking to finish his opponent early, despite the gap in MMA experience between the fighters.

"He was doing martial arts before I was even born and to go in and beat someone like that, it's going to be nice for me," said Gallagher.

"I'm looking forward to going in and beating someone that has been doing martial arts longer than I've been living. I have to respect that area of him, and that's what I'm going to do, but I feel like I have ways around it, and I'm going to exploit that on the night. You can't karate your way out of a rear naked choke."

Madison State Garden has been described as the "mecca of fight sports", with legendary names such as Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson having fought at the famous venue. Now the young man from Carlton Drive will walk the same walk as those boxing greats.

"Just over two years ago I was fighting in halls in front of a few hundred people, now I'm making the walk into the greatest fighting arena of all time at 20 years old.

"I feel like you carry that with you from a young age. People are going to be shocked when they see me walk out and breeze through this. This is what I've been dreaming of.

"I feel comfortable here. I don't get rattled up, it puts a smile on my face. Now it's my time to shine."

Gallagher's bout is part of the televised section of Bellator 180, airing on Spike TV from 8pm on Saturday, June 24.

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