Bellator 302: 'I don't fear anything,' says James Gallagher on fight with Leandro Higo

Irish featherweight James Gallagher is relishing the opportunity to fight on home soil as he prepares to meet Leandro Higo at Bellator 302 in Belfast.

Gallagher, 27, fights for the first time since August when he beat James Gonzalez by split decision following a 21-month lay-off.

He said it was "extra special" to be back fighting in Belfast and added: "I feel good, it's nice to be home, I'm buzzing to be fighting in front of my family and friends."

"There is nothing that compares to fighting at home," Gallagher told BBC Sport.

"I can't wait to get in there, I love these high pressure situations [in the cage] of chaos and just being stoic and calm and being able to think in the moment."

'I know what I'm capable of doing'

Gallagher lost against Patchy Mix in 2021 and then spent almost two years out of the cage due to injury.

The Strabane native required surgery on his thumb, forcing his bout with Brett Johns to be called off, and then injured his knee before pulling out of a bout with Higo in March last year.

He credits his relocation to Thailand and his spell on the sidelines as key to helping him get in shape, both physically and mentally for this fight.

"It's paradise out there [in Thailand], sunshine, beaches, world-class training and world-class facilities, I have everything I need under one roof, things couldn't be better," added Gallagher.

"It's been been very difficult [with injuries] but that is why I'm so positive.

"I know what I'm capable of doing, I know where my mind can go to and what I can come out of, so I don't fear anything, I can handle everything that comes my way now.

"I have stuff to prove to myself that I can do hard things and that nothing can get in my way."

'I want to be world champion'

When quizzed on the prospect of finally facing Higo, who has moved down to featherweight for their contest, Gallagher predicted he will claim a rear naked choke win in the first round.

Brazilian Higo, 35, is unbeaten in his 28 fights to date, but Gallagher is unfazed by his opponent's record.

"I feel like a winner," he grinned. "I have no feeling towards him. I just show up feeling the best version of myself and that's all I have to do, enjoy the moment, feel the energy of the crowd, go in and stick it into his head.

"I'm a young veteran on my second run, but that break did me the world of good, I was too young, my body wasn't mature enough then and now I'm grown up and looking forward to showing up."

A 13th career win for Gallagher will make him next in line to challenge for the featherweight belt, currently held by Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire, and an ambition he has firmly in his sights.

"I want to be a world champion and I am going to make that happen, the world title is there for me," he added.