Gallagher makes quick work of Ahern to mark Pro debut

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Conor McGregor was in attendance to witness the most anticipated professional debut in the history of Irish MMA last night as John Kavanagh protégé James Gallagher submitted Denis Ahern in round one at Cage Kings in the Neptune Stadium to mark his promotion in status.

Having fought Gallagher before, Ahern was the picture of focus as the Tyrone teen made his way to the cage. Despite an unprecedented amount of hype surrounding the 18-year-old, there was no denying how calm he was as he joined his opponent on their stage with a smile on his face.

‘The Strabanimal’ looked light on his feet in the opening exchanges, but Ahern showed no signs of being overawed by the moment as he traded with Gallagher. The turning point of the fight came when Gallagher secured a body lock. Dragging Ahern to the canvas, the Irish featherweight looked completely at ease as he transitioned from side-control to knee-on-belly and eventually to mount.

As Ahern tried to scramble, Gallagher took his back and secured the position with a body triangle. He quickly trapped his choking arm under the chin of Ahern and in seconds forced the tap from West Coast Warriors fighter. An emotional Gallagher celebrated in the cage after the bout having claimed his first professional victory in convincing fashion. Tipped as a top talent since the age of 15, there is no doubt that the excitement and expectation around Gallagher will only grow off his professional bow.

Blaine O’Driscoll banked a victory in his professional debut with sound second round TKO over established Trials proponent Dylan Sheehan. The first round of the flyweight bout saw O’Driscoll attempting to take Sheehan to the canvas, and as the two scrambled, Sheehan came quite close to securing a choke from north-south position. After the two got back to their feet, O’Driscoll eventually completed a takedown but Sheehan threatened with an armbar as he hit the deck. After escaping, O’Driscoll landed some grounded strikes before working his way to Sheehan’s back.

O’Driscoll completed another double leg early in the second, and again, Sheehan made it difficult for the Dubliner as he moved for a kimura. Looking to pass guard, O’Driscoll pulled off a well-timed leg drag, which eventually allowed him to take Sheehan’s back. Sheehan did well to survive as O’Driscoll threatened with a rear naked choke, even going palm-to-palm to try and force the tap from his counterpart. Ending up on Sheehan’s back, O’Driscoll landed a plethora of unanswered strikes before Andy Ryan was forced to step in to stop the action.

Dillon Manning rushed out of his corner as soon as the bell rang to meet Dwayne Crowley in the centre of the cage for their light-heavyweight amateur contest. The Muskery Judo man took the action to the ground, but as he attempted to transition Crowley managed to pull off a sweep to see him gain top position. Despite being on bottom, Manning had success with short punches as Crowley looked to pass guard.

Finding space, Manning got back to his feet and landed a solid combination that saw Crowley hit the mat. Following him to the canvas, Manning landed grounded shots that forced referee Andy Ryan to stop the contest.

Jack Maguire looked dominant in his first round win over Paudie Cosgrave. Maguire scored an early takedown in round one, and the Liam Beechinor product wasted no time in transitioning to mount where he landed some solid strikes to Cosgrave’s head.

Cosgrave’s flexibility saved him on several occasions as Maguire worked from the mount position. The SBG Cork man managed to get his heals on Maguire’s chest to escape on two occasions. On the third time, Maguire secured the mount position he didn’t allow Cosgrave to create the space to get out and after more grounded strikes the referee stepped in to stop the contest.

There was a lot of anticipation surrounding Lee Hammond’s amateur MMA debut in the Rebel County and the SBG jiu-jitsu ace was in no rush to showcase his grappling prowess as he threw a variety of spectacular kicks in the opening exchanges. Guillaume Litko looked to take the fight to the Dubliner and constantly pressed forward looking to exchange. Midway through the first round when the pair tied up Hammond pulled off a spectacular berimbolo, which nearly resulted in him taking Litko’s back.

Litko looked to close the distance throughout the second to stifle Hammond’s kicking attacks. The BJJ Cork man frustrated Hammond against the fence on two occasions, and when the two finally separated the SBG man landed a devastating head kick that stunned Litko. Hammond sensed his opponent’s struggle and landed a perfectly timed spinning back fist that sent him to the ground. Hammond followed up the flashy shot with two grounded strikes to take the second round victory.

Elliot Levy claimed a second round stoppage victory over Dean Martin to open the action in the Neptune. Martin got the attention of Levy in the opening exchanges and the Dublin-based lightweight landed a sharp double leg to change the dynamic of the contest.

Levy transitioned to a head arm choke and when Martin managed to escape, Levy took his back and worked a body triangle. Martin managed to sweep Levy in the final exchanges, and although the Dubliner looked for an armbar, he finished the round on bottom.

The second round saw another double leg takedown completed early on for Levi. Showcasing some slick movement, the Dubliner established mount before taking Martin’s back where he finished the contest with a rear-naked choke.

@PetesyCarroll

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.