James Gallagher: “People are going to be shocked when they see me walk out and breeze through this”

In a little over one week, Strabane’s very own James Gallagher will face off against Chinzo Machida on one of Bellator’s biggest ever cards in the world’s most famous Madison Square Garden. Ahead of his highly anticipated bout, Severe MMA caught up with the ‘Strabanimal’ to discuss the Irish support, potential future fights and his prediction for Bellator 180.

Although Gallagher will be fighting in America for the first time, he expects MSG to be a “home away from home”.

“There’s loads coming from Strabane and it’s a small little area so I can’t imagine the crowd that’s going to be coming from Boston”

“I know that there’s busloads coming from Boston and there’s different parts of New York as well, so I’m expecting the place to be covered in Irish flags and I feel like it’s going to be a home away from home.”

Gallagher gave his thoughts on not being featured on the pay per view portion of the card instead fighting on the earlier televised card.

“I’m going to fight and that’s it whether there’s ten people watching if I’m on TV or if I’m not on TV. I’m showing up, I fight, I win, I get paid and then I bounce that’s the way it is.”

“I couldn’t care if it’s on pay per view, free TV or whatever it is. I’ve prepared for it I’m going to show up and put on a performance whether it’s live TV or whatever it’s on, I’m going to show up and put on a performance.”

Despite being widely known for his jiu-jitsu, Gallagher believes he will be comfortable standing with the karate-based style of Machida and feels like he has ways to exploit the Brazilian.

“I feel comfortable on the feet with him as well like he’s got a karate background but I started off in karate as well so I have experienced that style but I have to respect that area of him. I feel like I’ve got ways around it and I’m going to exploit that on the night and show it, you can’t karate your way out of a rear naked choke.”

Gallagher has been a popular figure among the Bellator roster with highly touted prospect Aaron Pico who also fights on the card calling the Strabane native out but Gallagher has his eyes firmly fixed on a future world title fight.

“I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything of him, he hasn’t fought yet.” Gallagher said when questioned about Pico.

“They all seem to be calling me out, they all seem to want me and I just want the champ. Fuck all these guys I don’t want them I want the champ, that’s the difference in the mindset, they see that I’m getting a bit of hype and that’s what they want, they just want a bit of hype. I want world titles, that’s the difference.”

Gallagher had a few choice words for current Bellator lightweight champion, Michael Chandler who he recently got into some Twitter beef with.

“Jesus doesn’t approve of all his steroids” Gallagher said about the lightweight champ.

“Fuck him, he mentioned me. He’s the lightweight champ and he’s not even in my division but there he is mentioning me.”

“They all seem to want to just mention me but fuck him he’ll get it too if he wants, I’ll move up to fight him no problem.”

A fighter who Gallagher seems to be constantly linked with is undefeated Bellator featherweight, AJ McKee. After they were spotted together at the last Bellator event, Gallagher explained what happened between them when they came face-to-face.

“I walked over and he was like always online saying how he’d smack me next time I see him. So I was going over to get the WIFI code for the event off one of the Bellator guys and I leaned over the top of him and I was all “I thought you were going to smack me the next time you seen me” and he was all “it’s only for the camera’s” and I go “that’s the difference you pussy” and I walked away and that was the end of that.”

“He’s done, AJ McKee’s gone, he’s not even in my mind anymore, fuck that. Chinzo Machida’s getting it, June 24th.”

Gallagher who has been fighting since the age of thirteen believes that his past experiences as an amateur will stand him in good stead and benefit him going forward in his career.

“I feel like you carry that with you since a young age, especially when your younger you grasp things very quick and those experiences you never forget, the feelings when you’re that 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 or anything, it put’s a smile on my face. Now it’s my time to shine, this is the way I’ve been thinking about it and this is the way I’m going to go out and fight it.”

Speaking on his future, Gallagher talks about the possibilities of moving to bantamweight or getting a title shot at his current weight division, featherweight.

“I haven’t been looking past him, I’ve been looking through him straight where I’m going, straight through him. I’m going to put Chinzo away in the first round so I’m going to choke him out in the first round, there’s no doubt about it and then I’ll see what else.”

“Maybe I can go to bantamweight or maybe I could get a title shot at featherweight, I’ll just have to wait and see I’m just focusing on this guy.”

Gallagher who train’s out of Straight Blast Gym says he has no issues being compared to his teammate Conor McGregor.

“Comparing me to the greatest fighter of all time, I’ll take that all day.”

“Make no mistake about it, I’m James Gallagher and I always will be, I’ve always been like this and I don’t want to be anyone else but myself and that’s the way I always will be and fuck what people say.”