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The 22-year-old Irish fighter being compared to Conor McGregor could actually a better example of 'modern' MMA

The 22-year-old Irish fighter being compared to Conor McGregor could actually a better example of 'modern' MMA

James Gallagher trains at the Straight Blast Gym

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James Gallagher.

  • A 22-year-old heavily-tattooed Irishman has attracted comparisons to his Straight Blast Gym teammate Conor McGregor.
  • James Gallagher, the headline attraction at Bellator MMA's signature European Series event at Dublin's 3Arena on Friday, has already fought 10 times as a professional fighter and will be flown around the world to showcase his skillset abroad, his promoter David Green told Business Insider.
  • Prominent fight reporter Gareth A. Davies said that while McGregor has had his limitations exposed, Gallagher is the "modern generation MMA fighter."
  • All Gallagher's promoter is hoping for is that, before long, the youngster makes a name for himself outside of McGregor.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

DUBLIN - James Gallagher, a 22-year-old featherweight, is attracting comparisons to his Straight Blast Gym teammate Conor McGregor even though they fight nothing alike.

Both athletes are heavily tattooed with wild animals etched into their chests. They are loud, supremely confident, and talk with Irish accents. They even train at the same Dublin fight club under the tutelage of renowned coach John Kavanagh.

Comparisons are, perhaps, inevitable.

Read more: Inside the new Straight Blast Gym, John Kavanagh's famous fight club that's home to Conor McGregor and James Gallagher

But Gallagher, a jiu jitsu specialist, has a contrasting combat style to McGregor, a knockout striker.

According to The Telegraph and talkSPORT's combat correspondent Gareth A. Davies, McGregor, a former two-weight champion with the UFC, has had his limitations exposed while Gallagher, one of Bellator's top prospects, is a greater reflection of what a modern day mixed martial artist is.

"He's got the same incredible levels of self-confidence and has grown up in the masterful shadow of Conor McGregor's rise," Davies said ahead of Gallagher's main event bout at the Bellator MMA show in Dublin on Friday.

"Remember he was a 14-year-old boy when he first met Conor. The influences are undeniable. But he is his own person. People say he's a mini-me of Conor, but when you've known him a while you see he is his own personality."

Gallagher is seen as 'a Conor impersonator'

Kavanagh agrees. "I can see why the media compares him to Conor McGregor, but I guess it is lazy," he told Business Insider.

"I've been training him since he was 14. He's a great athlete with a great mindset, and is mature. The media is only going to see James or Conor two times a year in a build-up to a fight so everything's very magnified for them.

"I see them every day so I see the differences. I hear he's a Conor impersonator, that he's this, that … at this stage just buy a ticket and come along and see what he's about."

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Gallagher weighed in for his Friday fight against the former UFC fighter Roman Salazar on Thursday, and the way he walked to the stage and faced off against his opponent bore similarities to McGregor.

Davies told Business Insider he has "wondrously enjoyed Conor's career so far," but said "we've seen the limitations of him" in losses to Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedov, who submitted McGregor in 2016 and 2018 fights respectively.

Gallagher, meanwhile, is "the modern generation MMA fighter," he said.

"He's been put up there as a star by Bellator, promoted, put on a platform, and he's done nothing wrong," Davies said. "Conor rose and carried a generation. Gallagher is doing all he can do, to be next in line for the succession to the throne."

Gallagher might soon outgrow the McGregor comparisons

Bellator is happy with the development of the youngster so far, and expects to fly him around the world so he can showcase his skillset abroad.

"He's still only 22 and is the youngest person on the card," David Green, Bellator's Head of Europe and Gallagher's promoter, told Business Insider.

Green said he's already had 10 fights (nine wins against just one loss) and is already a headline attraction. "It's an amazing story when you think how young he still is," Green said. "His potential is huge."

Green added: "James has an amazing future if he keeps going the way he does. He's on a huge stage on Friday, fighting in front of a full house at the 3Arena, on TV. He's going to be a bigger star than he already is, and we'd love to fight him around the world.

"I'm not surprised by the Conor comparisons. But I think if you look back at James' career when it does come to an end in the distant future, he'll have hopefully made a name for himself outside of that."


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