clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

James Gallagher says the ball is in ‘cringey’ A.J. McKee’s court if he wants to settle their rivalry

New, comments
James Gallagher isn’t a fan of A.J. McKee.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The rivalry between James Gallagher and A.J. McKee continues to grow.

Whether through the press or on social media, the two Bellator up-and-comers have been at sniping at one another for the better part of two years. Things continued to escalate last November in the aftermath of McKee’s victory over SBG Ireland’s Brian Moore when McKee and Gallagher shared a heated standoff at Bellator 187. The exchange followed a fight week that saw McKee make light of Gallagher’s recent injury issues, and tensions between the two haven’t shown any sign of cooling in the months since.

So while Gallagher is hoping for a May 25 return from injury at Bellator 200 in London, the Irishman hasn’t been impressed by what he’s seen from his featherweight rival.

“Anyone they put in front of me, I’m going to fight if it gets me on my way to the world title. That’s all,” Gallagher said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I’m not focused on this little absolute cringe f*cking thing that he’s doing, making all these stupid videos and making all these stupid slogans and t-shirts and sh*t about me trying to create the hype of a fight. I’m focused on a world title. I’m focused on me. I’m too busy focusing on me and focusing on training, they’ve been doing all this cringey sh*t.

“Get to the gym, mate, and stop making t-shirts and stop making stupid videos. Do you know what I mean? Put in a bit of work. Get towards a world title. That’s the kind of attitude that you need and that’s the kind of attitude that will make fights happen. Everyone’s sitting back cringing and laughing at it and going what the f*ck’s going on here, not saying this is how you creating a good fight.

“Focus on this one fight and let’s get after it. If that’s what he wants, then that’s easy. It’s easy to ring Bellator. Do you know what I mean? Let’s get it done.”

Gallagher, 21, and McKee, 22, are two of Bellator’s most intriguing homegrown prospects. The pair share a perfect combined 17-0 record, with Gallagher (7-0) and McKee (10-0) both going unbeaten under the Bellator umbrella.

After McKee dispatched Gallagher’s teammate Moore in Dublin, considering the heat between the two, Gallagher vs. McKee seemed like a foregone conclusion. Yet even before Gallagher suffered his latest hand injury, both he and McKee were slated to meet separate opponents — Gallagher was matched against Hungarian prospect Adam Borics, while McKee is currently slated to take on UFC veteran Justin Lawrence at Bellator 197.

So why hasn’t the grudge match happened?

Gallagher isn’t sure.

But the Irishman is confident his American rival can make it happen — that is, if McKee actually wants the matchup as badly as he claims he does.

“I’m sitting here ready to fight anyone. Anyone. I always have been,” Gallagher said. “I always said I will fight anyone. I don’t care who it is, send me over the contract and I’ll sign it and send it back within 10 minutes, the same way I’ve done with every other fight. So I don’t care who it is. I’ll fight anyone. You can ask Scott Coker that, you can ask the matchmakers. I’ve signed every contract they have fired to me.

“The ball is in their court. So it is — it’s not in mine. The ball is in their court. I’m sitting here ready to fight, London, Bellator 200. If he wants it, I’m here.”