James Gallagher from Strabane, Co Tyrone looks set to continue Ireland's assertion of dominance in the MMA world as he embarks on his path to the Bellator Featherweight title on Saturday night. Standing in his way is Englishman Mike Cutting.

Gallagher is just 3-0 as a professional but has already garnered a strong following of loyal Irish supporters. The ‘Strabanimal' announced himself as a pro back in October of last year with a first round submission of Denis Ahern. He has continued that form with two more first round submissions, including a win over Gerard Gilmore at Bamma 24 in February. A win that prompted Bellator to sign the 19 year old.

Fighting out of SBGi, Gallagher has the luxury of training alongside fellow Featherweight and UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor and other UFC fighters such as Gunnar Nelson and Artem Lobov. Under the tutelage of John Kavanagh, the ‘Strabanimal' has become somewhat of a submission specialist. Far from being one dimensional however, the young Tyrone native has a very elusive striking style, similar to that of Gunnar Nelson.

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Although only 3-0 as a professional, Gallagher had six amateur fights and took his time before turning to the professional game. After losing his first amateur bout in 2011 aged just 14, the SBGi product went on to win five in a row, including three submissions and a TKO stoppage between 2014 and 2015. Big things are expected from Gallagher and Mike Cutting will prove to be his toughest test to date, based on experience alone.

Mike Cutting (6-5) is coming off a loss to Declan Dalton at Bamma 24 and probably wouldn't have fancied his chances of getting a call up to fight on the Bellator card based on that performance but he will be looking to redeem himself and keep his record a winning one. With five losses already in his pro career at a relatively low level, Bellator seems a big step up for the Hampshire born fighter.

However, he will feel that he certainly has an advantage when it comes to experience having fought 11 times at professional level. The pressure is mostly on Gallagher also, who is expected to win, so ‘Gip' who holds submission victories in all of his wins, will relish the opportunity to test his grappling skills against the relatively green Irishman.

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Cutting has never been stopped by strikes in his five losses but has succumbed to three submissions, so it appears as though we are going to have a grappling affair, with both fighters most likely avenue to victory coming by way of submission. Cutting holds an impressive first round submission win over a talented striker in Nathaniel Wood and will probably be hoping that the ‘Strabanimal' attempts to keep it on the feet.

In what should be a good grappling affair, it is hard to look past the hype that is surrounding Gallagher and the fact that John Kavanagh rates him so highly. A well rounded fighter but will he be able to handle the pressure of the big stage against a much more experienced Cutting. We believe that he will and will do so in typical fashion, with a first round submission.

 

 

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