James Gallagher gets back to finishing ways with submission win in deafening Dublin
James Gallagher is not the next Conor McGregor. James Gallagher is James Gallagher.
Comparisons were always going to be drawn between Gallagher and the most famous representative of Straight Blast Gym due to both the proclivity of both men for the finish, as well as their promo-cutting abilities.
But Gallagher does not need to emerge from the shadow of 'The Notorious' because, on Friday night, he began casting a pretty distinctive silhouette of his own.
The 20-year-old Bellator prospect stretched his undefeated record to five when he acted as one half of the co-main event of the organisation's Dublin debut.
As Bellator co-produced with BAMMA for a festive super-show, Gallagher was the star attraction of the evening.
In his way was an even mouthier man in the form of California offering Anthony Taylor, who had done his part in promoting the show in the 3Arena by providing an intriguing foil for 'The Strabanimal', who was confident of returning to his finishing ways.
Having heard the judges' scorecards being read for the first time in his career in July, Gallagher was intent on not finding himself in that position again.
The Dublin crowd welcomed him as only they can and he took to the cage with a composure not often seen in a 20-year-old.
Taylor came out swinging in the hope of silencing the 3Arena early but the Strabane native remained cool under the pressure and continued to circle in a bid to win the battle for the centre of the mat.
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Gallagher's smile was unmissable and so too was the strategy of Taylor as he refused to jump into the submission specialist's guard once Gallagher slipped after seeing his kick caught.
A thudding kick to Taylor's lead leg punctuated the cries of 'Stand up for the boys in green!' but Gallagher didn't have it all his own way as his jaw was tested by a short left hook.
The fans rose as Gallagher secured a gorgeous takedown but a guillotine attempt was defended and the American survived to see the stool.
'Pretty Boy' lapped up the hostility as he taunted the crowd in between rounds but that did little in the way of disrupting Gallagher's focus and he looked altogether more comfortable on the feet in the second, offering a high guard at stages to suggest a complete disdain for Taylor's striking prowess.
The leg kick started paying off shortly thereafter and a telling limp began swinging the tide even more in Gallagher's favour.
As he took the instructions of his head coach, John Kavanagh, on board for the last time that night, Gallagher appeared determined not to leave it in the all-too-often unreliable hands of the judges.
The trusty leg kick spun Taylor around at the beginning of the third round and Gallagher didn't wait around, taking the opportunity to dive on an exposed back.
The hand-fight was won, and the jockeying for position brought both men to the other side of the cage before Gallagher finally forced his foe to the mat.
The tap came. Of course it did.
And that shiny zero on Gallagher's record was given yet another polishing after he handed the Irish flag to the latest victim in his ascent to mixed martial arts stardom.