STRABANIMAL James Gallagher remains in characteristically confident form this week as he begins the final countdown to the biggest fight of his career.
The 20-year-old Tyrone MMA star will take his unbeaten record to Madison Square Garden in New York for the biggest show in the history of Bellator on Saturday night.
The Strabane man features on a card packed with legends of the MMA world. The top end of the card will form part of a pay-per-view event, but Gallagher’s featherweight showdown with Brazilian Chinzo Machida will be the penultimate fight for the high profile bout between former UFC stars Phil Davis and Ryan Bader, which will be broadcast to a much wider audience on Spike TV.
However fans in Ireland and the UK will have to wait until 10pm on Monday night to see the fight on their screens via Spike.
With three wins in Bellator on this side of the Atlantic already under his belt, Gallagher can now put down a marker on a much bigger stage, potentially catapulting his MMA career in a way few 20-year-olds can dream of.
But standing in his way is a fighter twice his age. Chinzo Machida (40) is the elder brother of former UFC champion Lyoto Machida. Both come from a high level pedigree karate background.
Although Machida has just one more professional bout to his name, he comes off a four fight win streak, including three stoppages.
In New York since last week after weeks of high level training with the now world famous SBG Ireland, Gallagher continues to ooze his trademark confidence.
Lounging around the Big Apple in a Tyrone top, you would be forgiven for believing that the Strabanimal is about to embark on the biggest fight of his career.
“I’m going to put him away in the first,” he promised this week. “I am going straight to the top.”
Five of Gallagher’s six pro wins have come from through submission. Although the jiu-jitsu specialist showed a greater range of boxing skills in his February win over Kirill Medvedovsky, he has promised to choke out Machida in the first round. Such a win in front a large Madison Square Garden crowd and an American TV audience, would help put the 20-year-old closer to the level where in his mind, he already is.
“The Irish are coming to New York and I’m going to steal the show,” he enthused. “I’m gonna shock everyone bar myself.”
James Gallagher’s fight is expected to take place in the early hours of Sunday between 1am and 2.30am Irish time.