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SBG prospect James Gallagher on Conor McGregor comparisons, upcoming Bellator debut and how he first met John Kavanagh



James Gallagher is a highly rated featherweight prospect fighting out of SBG gym in Dublin, Ireland. Gallagher makes his Bellator debut at the O2 Arena in London on July 16th at Bellator 158. We spoke about his upcoming bout, the McGregor comparisons, meeting John Kavanagh and making his MMA debut aged 13.

Both you and your Bellator 158 opponent Mike Cutting have finished all of your professional bouts via submission. What are the chances this fight takes place mainly in the grappling realm?

James Gallagher: Yeah definitely, I think I’m going to submit him in the first round the same as I have with the rest of my opponents, I don’t see him as being any different. I think I will choke him out in the first round.

Bellator 158 has been hit by a lot of changes, Josh Koscheck, Linton Vassell, Mark Godbeer and Michael Page’s original opponent all withdrawing from the card to name a few. Has this been a wild introduction to Bellator?

JG: Yeah well obviously it’s sad to see those sort of things for the promotion but that’s got nothing to do with me, I’m just working hard, working on me and working towards my dreams, I don’t pay attention too much to stuff online or read too much into these things, do you know what I mean?

So you’ve heard these comparisons a thousand times I’m sure, you’re an Irishman, you’ve got the tattoos, you train under John Kavanagh at SBG, you’ve got that karate stance and even the same sort of swagger that Conor McGregor displays as the ring announcer calls your name. Can you see where the comparisons come from and how do you feel about those comparisons, do they start to annoy you at all?

JG: Yeah, a little bit I think but when I’m around I see Conor every day and I don’t think I’m too much like him at all really, I would actually see myself more like Gunnar Nelson than Conor, to be honest but people can say what they want, I can’t control what other people say. I’m just being me, having fun and trying to be the best, that’s that.

It’s funny you mention that because I feel that so far in your career your trips and your flowing top pressure is much more akin to Gunnar Nelson’s style than anyone else’s at SBG, is that fair?

JG: Yeah definitely. I’ve spent a lot of time with Gunni, we’ve lived together for a while, both coached by John Kavanagh and we’re both kinda interested in the same kind of things. I would very much see myself much more like him personality-wise, I’ve probably been a bit more like Conor when I’m in public but I still see myself very much more like Gunni. I’m nowhere near as outgoing as Conor or anything like that, I don’t see myself like that at all. We’re just both Irish training under the same gym.

You had your first amateur fight way back in 2010 aged just 13, what was that like?

JG: It was a great experience, that was in my hometown, in Strabane and my opponent was a little bit older, he was like 15, 16 maybe. I walked out in front of my hometown, just 13 years of age do you know what I mean? I finished my opponent by first-round submission and the streak was on! [laughs]

Was this the fight that John Kavanagh was set to judge?

JG: No that was my second fight, I was 13 and I was fighting a 21-year-old man and John was judging it, someone told John about it and John was like ‘I’m not judging this, this is going to ruin MMA as a sport in Ireland, it’s a kid fighting a grown man, not going to happen,’ but the fight went ahead and I went out and beat the guy, just a 13-year-old kid and I manhandled him, the kid manhandled the man. I beat the guy and that’s how I met John.

You’ve previously said you’ll be retired before you turn 26-27, is that still the case?

JG: Yeah I can’t see why not, I believe that in the next two years I’ll get that belt, I’ll continue defending it and do what I can to become the greatest then leave within the next few years. That [age 27] would be 8 years away, do you know what I mean, that’s a long time in this sport.

There have been a few stories recently about the fighters that have been coming to SBG to help Conor prepare for his rematch with Nate Diaz, he’s brought in Dillon Danis, a jiu-jitsu world champion- I saw your tweet saying you’d been working with him, he’s brought in kickboxing world champions, national boxing champions, I saw Paul Felder stopped by last week. How has this affected things at SBG? And have you benefited from these arrivals?

JG: It’s been amazing these last few months or so, having these guys and knowing how good Dillon is, obviously it’s just training but I can gauge how my level is against these top guys, that’s what gives me confidence in my ability.

You stayed in the famous MacMansion before Conor’s UFC 189 fight as you were also preparing for the IMMAF amateur world championships, what was that experience like?

JG: Yeah I went out with Conor like 3 months before, my fight was like 1 week before he fought Chad Mendes, it was perfect because we got to do the training camp together, there were loads of us out there together, it was a great experience.

Even though you’re so young you’ve been in the game a long time, how have you seen Irish MMA grow in the last few years?

JG: It’s crazy, I remember like a few early fights that I fought in boxing rings, little rings in little halls in front of no one. I was just young and now a 13-year-old kid would never be able to go and fight MMA, a 15-year-old kid wouldn’t. It’s nice to see the sport growing in Ireland, the rules coming in and everyone evolving, it’s nice to see.

Did part of you feel like you were on the outside looking in during these huge homecoming events in Dublin over the last couple of years?

JG: Yeah definitely, that was around the time that I had started fighting MMA again, I might have had one fight soon before that but it gave me a feeling of what was ahead for me, it was nice to see.

Gallagher faces Mike Cutting at Bellator 158 on July 16th.

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Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou Official for UFC 220



UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts has its main event. Stipe Miocic (17-2) will put his belt on the line for the third time against rising heavyweight star, Francis Ngannou (11-1)

Rumors surrounded the match-up for UFC 220 after Ngannou’s first round knockout over Alistair Overeem, at UFC 218. The Cameroonian heavyweight called for the fight himself. In his octagon interview proceeding his most recent victory, Ngannou stated:

“I’m feeling good… I’m on my way to a title shot”.

The heavy handed Ngannou has finished all of his opponents in all of his six UFC bouts. A streak which includes a kimura submission over Anthony Hamilton and a TKO victory against former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski. Overall, he holds a ten fight win streak. His only defeat came by way of unanimous decision to Zoumana Cisse, in his second professional MMA fight.

If victorious, Ngannou would become the first African-born champion in UFC history.

Not to be diminished, Stipe Miocic rides his a streak of his own into the beantown match-up. Five consecutive wins, five knockouts and the past four of which, ended in the first round. A victory in Boston for the champ would make him the longest reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history. Currently, Miocic is one of three heavyweights, in the promotions entirety, whom has successfully defended the belt twice.

UFC 220 will be held at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on January 20th, 2018. The pay-per-view (PPV) card will also feature light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, as he faces challenger Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir.

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Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview



Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.

LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.

Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.

Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)

The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.

In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.

Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.

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Mackenzie Dern victorious in Invicta debut 



Late Friday night, Mackenzie Dern (5-0, 1-0 Invicta FC) won her co-main event booking, defeating Kaline Medieros (8-6, 2-2 Invicta FC), at Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzwiedz, via submission (armbar) with only fifteen seconds remaining in the fight.

Much of the fight was controlled by Dern. The heralded prospect displayed her power, visibly damaging her opponent with multiple overhand rights. Striking is an under-developed aspect of her attack, only when compared to the twenty-four-year-olds black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Above all, she showed a progression of her striking skills. Dern looked to be bigger and physically stronger than her veteran opponent. She utilized forward pressure and found the proper timing for her overhand right throughout.

The veteran Medeiros showed her toughness throughout the fight. She defended and scrambled out of some bad positions during the grappling exchanges. Ultimately, she tapped when caught in a deeply planted armbar.  While Medeiros did earn a few hard trip takedowns, it factored minimally in the result as she refused to follow Dern to the mat. The Boston native suffered her second straight loss, Friday night. Her first was to, former Invicta strawweight champion, Angela Hill.

Dern made her professional debut in July of 2016 with Legacy Fighting Alliance (previously: Legacy Fighting Championship). In her debut, she defeated Kenia Rosas by unanimous decision. The Phoenix-born fighter won her next three bouts. Before her MMA career began, Dern won the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) championship at 60 kg. She was the first American born female to become champion at the weight. Her grappling resume boasts many more incredible accomplishments. Justifiably, a growing spotlight now hangs over her, her skills, and potential in the sport of MMA.

Elsewhere on the Invicta 26 card, Jennifer Maia defeated Agnieszka Niedzweidz by unanimous decision. Maia retained her Invicta flyweight belt, defending it for the second time. Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzweidz, took place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri.

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