Ireland's James Gallagher says he nearly quit mixed martial arts just two weeks before last night's win over Jeremiah Labiano at Bellator London.
Strabane's Gallagher defeated the Californian via unanimous decision last night after a gritty back-and -forth contest in London's SSE Wembley Arena, taking his mma record to 9-1.
Gallagher says he told head coach John Kavanagh that he "didn't want" to take the fight against Labiano.
"Two week's ago I pulled out; I pulled out of the fight two week's ago. I texted my coach and said, 'I can't do it anymore,' the Tyrone man told the gathered media.
The 22-year-old revealed he suffered a number of panic attacks in the training prior to last night's 140lbs catchweight bout. Gallagher admitted he was mentally in a dark place, and say he considered walking away from the sport.
"I had panic attacks in the gym. I didn't want to fight. I was in a bad, bad place - pulled out of the fight, and I didn't want to be there anymore. I didn't want to do it.
"I pulled out of the fight, I didn't want to be here, I didn't want to train again, I never wanted to fight again in my life - I was in a bad way."
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) June 22, 2019
SBG's Gallagher paid tribute to teammate and close friend Kiefer Crosbie, coach John Kavanagh and his dad Andy for helping him through the mental turmoil he faced ahead of last night's win. Bellator MMA's bantamweight contender admitted he had to be helped out of the SBG Concorde facility after physical sickness from the panic attacks.
"The Strabanimal" says he is proud of taking, and winning the fight after overcoming his mental doubts. He says the doubters can say what they want but believes overcoming the panic attacks has made him the strongest mental fighter in the division.
"If it wasn't for Kiefer, John, a few of the lads and my dad, they came down to the gym and I had my own private sessions. I had to be helped out of the gym a few days in a row. It was like panic attacks, getting sick and I couldn't control myself. I was feeling absolutely dirt but now I'm back and I'm winning - say what you want but I'm F****** proud of myself."
"I swear to God they all hammer on about me; and everyone hammers on about me but none of them have a mindset like me,' added the confident Mixed Martial Artist.
Gallagher is expected to headline Bellator MMA's Dublin card SEPT. 27th in the 3 Arena