Despite his tender years, 20-year-old Strabane native James Gallagher has the mixed martial arts world in the palm of his hands.
At the same age, many of Gallagher’s peers were still in the developmental stage of their careers: learning about the fight game, putting in the the hours at the gym, honing their technique and, while Gallagher still does this himself, he does so from the vantage point of someone at the forefront of the next generation of mixed martial artists.
This Friday’s Bellator 173 event from Belfast in Northern Ireland sees Gallagher take on his third challenge under the Scott Coker’s promotional banner. His first two performances, a decision over Mike Cutting last summer and a third round submission of Anthony Taylor late last year, showed that the young SBG Ireland fighter has all the tools necessary to reach the summit of the sport. His next test comes this week in the form of Israeli submission specialist Kirill Medvedovsky, a fighter Gallagher was originally booked against last year, and the Strabane native intends to make easy work of the 7-3 fighter.
Speaking to Jim Edwards of FloCombat, Gallagher said: “I’m not focusing on anything but caving his head in. That’s all I need to think about. There’s nothing else I need to be focused on right now–it’s the only thing that’s been on my mind. Nothing can take my focus away.
“Whether they talk before a fight or whether they say nothing at all–it’s all the same thing to me. Whether he’s shouting his mouth off or say nothing at all, I’m going in there and I’m going to get it done early. Whether I light him up with a few shots early on and knock him out, or whether I get his back early and choke him out–whatever happens, it’s all the same.”
Given that Strabane is just a short drive from the SSE Arena in Belfast, Gallagher says that the arena will be swamped with his supporters and, given the news of Irishman Chris Fields’ withdrawal from the main event opposite Liam McGeary, Gallagher says he is now the de facto main event — just how it was from the beginning.
“I can’t even walk up the street this week,” Gallagher said of his notoriety ahead of the fight. “It’s amazing, the whole place is coming. You’re going to see them on Friday night it’s going to be something else. The people of Strabane always get behind me. It’s great and I love it–they make me feel like a king and I can’t thank them enough for that.
“On Friday night, I’m going out there and I’m going to be doing them all proud. This is going to be another Gallagher show. Am I not the main event? Let’s see what happens when the place is packed out for my fight and then as soon as I win the place will be empty–just like the last time in Dublin.”