James Gallagher is known as one of the more boisterous, talkative, antagonistic characters on the Bellator MMA roster. Between that, and his association with SBG Ireland and Conor McGregor, “The StrabAnimal” has been a lightning rod for criticism, from fans who are far from appreciative of his particular brand of self-promotion.
So to hear a soft-spoken and earnest James Gallagher after Bellator Europe 9 was something of a surprise.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Gallagher (11-1) admitted, moments after his submission finish of Cal Ellenor. The pair had been booked multiple times over the past year or so, with the fight falling through again and again.
“I can’t put it into words. I’m very humbled, and I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I’m very thankful that I could come here and put the work in,” said Gallagher, noting that “there’s people out there with serious problems. The world’s on lockdown, the whole place is shutting down, and I’m just here on my own with my family, just grinding, grinding away, doing something I love. And I’m happy I’m able to do it.”
It’s hard to imagine that Gallagher could even allow himself to believe that the fight would truly happen until he was locked in the cage with Ellenor. Given how many times the bout had been called off. But Gallagher told Cageside Press on Saturday that his approach was the “same as always. I just focus on myself. I don’t focus on him. And tonight, he showed up, and he showed up ready. He’s a big strong motherf*cker, and I respect him.”
Respect is something that Gallagher doesn’t always see comes his own way. And he’s not expecting it after the Ellenor win, either. “Shhh!” was the bantamweight’s response to that question. Not shushing the reporter who posed it, but rather, indicating what he expects to hear from the rest of the division. “Silence.”
Gallagher was a bit less reserved when potential opponents were brought up. Sergio Pettis. And the newly signed Brett Johns, who responded to Gallagher’s performance by posting a batch of laughing face emojis on social media.
“I’m laughing all the way to the bank, that’s where I am. He’s only getting started in here. I’m laughing all the way to the bank. He’s laughing because he wants bank,” Gallagher quipped.
“Are they just going to keep laughing? Are they just going to keep being in denial with themselves?” he questioned. “Laughing at me. How many people do I need to strangle?”
“It’s all talk is it? Well how come I kept my mouth shut this time?” Gallagher added. Again, he said, “silence.”
That’s all James Gallagher is expecting as an answer, it seems.
Watch the full Bellator Europe 9 post-fight press scrum with James Gallagher above.