BY RYAN McALEER
STRABANE’S James Gallagher extended his unbeaten professional record in comfortable fashion by submitting American Anthony Taylor in the third round in Dublin last Friday night.
Just the Strabanimal’s second fight under the Bellator banner, the 20-year-old Tyrone man was handed the co-headline slot for the international mixed martial arts promotion’s 3Arena event.
Gallagher looked assured and at ease in front of the bumper home crowd, taking his time to soak up the atmosphere on his way into the cage.
With a chequered amateur record and just one professional win under his belt, MMA pundits didn’t offer part-time model Taylor much of a chance against the submission specialist.
But it was the American who came out strongest from the start, throwing wildly and pushing forward in the hope of catching Gallagher for an unlikely upset.
While he did connect on occasion, there was little to trouble the Strabanimal, who remained relaxed, using leg kicks effectively to null the Taylor offensive.
After investing a lot of his energy in storming Gallagher at the start of the first two rounds, Taylor visibly slowed in the second.
With little variation in his game, Gallagher deployed a series of punishing leg kicks, clearly hurting the American.
Taylor still did manage to land the odd head punch and surged at the start of the third and final five minutes.
But with the third round just seconds old, Gallagher took Taylor’s back, placing all his weight on the American who remained on his feet, seemingly unsure how to respond.
Retaining the position, the Strabanimal began unleashing head strikes as Taylor bizarrely walked across the ring to his corner, displaying a grin for the cameras.
Taylor eventually went to ground, where Gallagher quickly managed to get his arm under the Californian’s chin to secure the rear naked choke and the win with three minutes left on the clock.
In the days and weeks building up to the fight, Taylor had consistently goaded Gallagher that he was not Irish but British.
Handing the American a tricolour at the end, the Strabane man told the crowd, ” If anyone comes into my country and tries to disrespect where I come from, I’ll make them raise the flag of my country.”
Acknowledging Taylor’s power, Gallagher added, ” He was a really strong guy, hit hard and I couldn’t get caught by that.
But I can go all day long, so I just keep my pressure on. I keep my pressure, I keep going, I cut him off.
” I listened to my coach in between rounds. He said if you go and cut him off, bang in the kick, he’ll take three and he’ll go down. That’s what I did and I got the finish.”
Posted: 6:59 pm December 22, 2016