An emotional James Gallagher wept in the cage after his unanimous points win over Mike Cutting at Bellator 158. It was Gallagher’s least clinical, but most satisfying victory to date as he rose to the big occasion, overcame his nerves and proved to himself he belongs in the big league.
At the star-studded event, Gallagher opened the main card and constantly attacked a very cagey Cutting, who refused to engage and was even warned for being so negative by referee John Macarthy.
But it didn’t matter as “The Strabanimal” eventually caught up with him, landed some telling blows and dominated him on the ground.
Afterwards The Irish Bantamweight, who joined KHK MMA last year, admitted that the road to Bellator had been a battle with his biggest enemy, himself.
He said: “I have been through it in the past few months. Tonight for me was about beating myself. I came through everything, put endless hours in and beat myself. Tonight I can truly say I am proud of myself for the first time ever in my life. I am not proud of my performance, but I am proud of myself.”
The fight began with Gallagher advancing, searching for a quick finish he landed a takedown against the cage, and attempted three submissions as he took Cutting’s back, sapped his energy and landed several strikes.
Cutting survived the round, but his will had seemingly being broken as he went on the run and refused to engage with Gallagher, leading to Big John verbally warning him. He opted for an occasional leg kick-and-run approach, but It didn’t matter as The Strabanimal caught up with him, threw a combination and took him down with ease, finishing the round with ground-and-pound.
The final round was just as dominant for Gallagher, who caught a Cutting kick and took him to the ground again, searching for a submission. Cutting tried a few submission attempts in vain and the round finished with the KHK MMA man on top, having secured an easy points win.
Gallagher, who was critical of his performance after the fight, also delivered an indirect warning to the rest of the division after the fight, indicating there was much more to come from him.
“That was far from a good performance. I did it, I beat myself, now it’s time to go and beat some others and start making statements,” he said. “I dreamed of this since I was a kid, I am humbled.”
Since he joined KHK MMA last year, Gallagher has notched four professional victories and has been signed by Bellator in an incredible year for the 19-year-old. He is one of several young stars at KHK MMA who appear to be destined for big things. Frans Mlambo recently won in brutal fashion and Jose Torres looks unstoppable, both are part of the KHK MMA revolution in Bahrain.
And the CEO Mohammed Shahid believes the progress of these fighters indicates that KHK MMA is on course to achieving their goals.
He said: “After the two recent wins for Mlambo and Gallagher, we can safely say that KHK MMA is going in the right direction. We are dedicated to giving the best opportunities for our young amateur and professional fighters and with James’s Bellator 158 success in such big event, we hope to see Frans fighting on the big stage very soon.”