james gallagher, mma
James Gallagher/Instagram

If the UFC have an A-lister in Conor McGregor, how can Bellator MMA -- the second biggest Mixed Martial Arts promotion in the world -- be far behind? It seems the Scott Coker-owned company has already found an upcoming star in James Gallagher -- also an Irishman.

The resemblance between McGregor and Gallagher is uncanny. The same level of self-confidence, the knack of using profanities in post-fight press conference, that almost identical Irish accent and unusually the same kind of body language.

Gallagher, 20, received attention from a plethora of combat sports fans around the world when he submitted Chinzo Machida via a rear naked choke at the Bellator 180 event in Madison Square Garden, New York, last weekend.

He immediately drew comparisons with McGregor, who ironically also trains with him under coach John Kavanagh in Ireland's revered Straight Blast Gym (SBG).

People are referring to him as a Conor McGregor wannabe. As for Gallagher himself, well, that comes as a flattery!

"Getting compared the GOAT? (Greatest of All Time)" said Gallagher, "The man who will knock out Floyd? I'll take that all day!"

Coach Kavanagh, meanwhile, mentioned that very moment, years back, that prompted him to take Gallagher under his wing and give him proper MMA training.

"So I was judging a fight show in a small part of Ireland where he's from and a 13-year-old walked out, and he was fighting a 22-year-old," Kavanagh elaborated in the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.

"I told the promoter I'm not going to be involved with this, a child should not be fighting an adult, so I left the show. But, I kind of popped my head in and watched out of morbid curiosity, and this 13-year-old took a few hard shots, took a guy down, took his back, and choked him. A 22-year-old man.

"There's a big difference between a 13-year-old and a 22-year-old, so there was serious potential there. I had a chat with his parents and him, and I said look, I'll train him, but he's not allowed to fight MMA again until I say.

"I didn't like the idea of him being hit in the head at that young age. Then he moved in with me, he was doing an eight-hour round-trip to do a one-hour class, his father would drive him four hours down, he'd train for one hour, and then four hours back, we kept that up for two years and then at 15 he dropped out of school and moved down to Dublin.

He moved in with me, and then we became.. I like to think older brother, but sometimes I get confused for his father."