Spoiler alert: All positive before Bellator London, James Gallagher simply 'can't connect with the hate'

LONDON – James Gallagher is enjoying every minute of life as he continues his rise up the Bellator bantamweight ladder.

The “Strabanimal” (8-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) takes on Jeremiah Labiano (12-6 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) in a 140-pound catchweight bout at Bellator London on Saturday from The SSE Arena – better known as Wembley Arena. And the 22-year-old Irishman says nerves will play absolutely no part in his pre-fight routine.

“They don’t,” he said as he chatted with MMA Junkie on Wednesday at open workouts. “Maybe when I sign the contract they start. Then it’s fun. Let’s go and have the time of my life now. I get to walk out there, and millions of people will watch me do something I love.”

Gallagher’s optimism and enthusiasm are undeniably infectious when he’s in front of a camera speaking freely. Indeed, so happy was Gallagher he even admitted to enjoying the at-times draining fight week obligations, including open workouts and chatting with the media.

“I love all this stuff,” Gallagher said. “Every fighter hates it and complains about it. I don’t have that kind of mentality. I’m happy to be here, thankful to be here. And the reason why is I’ve worked my (expletive) balls off to get here.”

But that unbreakable self-confidence and willingness to speak his mind has also seen Gallagher attract his fair share of haters, who were out in force two bouts ago, when he was stopped by Ricky Bandejas at Bellator 204.

Undeterred, Gallagher went straight back to the gym, worked on his game and bounced back in fine style with a first-round rear-naked choke of Steven Graham at Bellator 217 in Dublin. While it must have been tempting for him to fire back at the doubters following that win, he says he’s learned to let go.

“I can’t connect with the hate. I can’t do it,” Gallagher said. “I tried before, but I just can’t connect with that mindframe of person. It doesn’t even register. I just think positive. I just want to go out there and do this for my family. I want to go out there and do this for my team and, more importantly, I’m going to go and do it for myself.

“I’ve worked hard. My mind has been in a different place, and I’m not stopping until I get to the very top and get what I want out of this. Getting to the very top is not even enough for me. I’ve got something in my head, and I’m not stopping until I get it.”

James Gallagher at Bellator London open workouts. (Simon Head-MMA Junkie)

And, as Gallagher gets set to drop his latest episode of what he likes to call “The Jimmy Show,” the always accommodating Irishman was happy to share some detailed spoilers ahead of Saturday night’s premiere.

“First-round rear-naked choke. That’s how it’s going to go down,” he said. “Heavy ground-and-pound, I’ll bust him up real bad, make him confused in there, and he’ll give me his way out. I feel like that’s how it’s going to go.

“I’m just going to be too composed, he’s going to get angry, and I’m just going to be calm, dance around him, inflict big shots on him and force him to turn his back, then I’ll choke him.”

For more on Bellator London, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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