Nobody really knew who Anthony ‘Pretty Boy’ Taylor was before Bellator 169 rolled into Dublin this week.
The American, who holds a 1-1 professional record, strutted into the Irish capital early this week and has made headlines nearly every day since because of his antics.
While the Irish MMA masses might not be able to tell you anything substantial about his style or his background, he has definitely brought their attention to his bout against highly touted unbeaten Irish prospect, James Gallagher, in tomorrow night’s Bellator co-main event.
Calling out SBG Fighters, in SBG
‘Pretty Boy’ was the first up at Tuesday’s open workouts, which were held at his opponent James Gallagher’s stomping ground, SBG Concorde.
Taylor went through a standard shadow boxing drill before moving around with AJ McKee, but things really started to get interesting when he was doing his final poses for the gathered media.
“Certified!” he shouted from the Octagon at the back of the gym, as he pointed at his torso.
“Trust me, I’m going to knock James out!” he roared down onto the gym floor where a few people were waiting to train.
“First round knockout,” he shouted when asked for his fight prediction. “Within the first two minutes of the first round. It’s guaranteed!”
Noticing Gallagher’s teammate Kiefer Crosbie on the matted area, Taylor began to goad the Dubliner.
“Any of you want any? Let’s do it in cage,” he shouted while flexing his muscles.
“I know you do, I know you want me,” he said directly to Crosbie who was training on the matted area on the main floor.
“I’ll break your jaw,” replied the SBG welterweight.
“I’ll take you out next, don’t worry,” said ‘Pretty Boy’. “I’m going to knock James out.”
And Taylor didn’t stop there. He continued his verbal attack on the gym when he name-dropped Conor McGregor and Artem Lobov.
“Bring your ‘Russian Hammer’ too,” he cited SBG featherweight and UFC fighter, Artem Lobov, “I’ll knock him out too.
“I’ve got somebody there for Conor McGregor as well, but trust me, James is getting knocked out in round two.”
Gallagher arrived on the scene after Taylor’s workout and laughed off the drama when he heard about his opponent putting the gym on notice. Making his way down to the back of the gym, Taylor immediately marched towards Gallagher when he saw him, with Gallagher shoving his opponent as he stepped into him.
When Brian Moore separated the two and Crosbie arrived on the scene beside Gallagher, Taylor jumped into a fighting stance.
“I’ll knock your ass out too, bro,” roared Anthony in the direction of Crosbie, as Gallagher laughed at the bizarre fracas.
“You think you run SBG gym? I run this bitch,” said the American before he was pulled away from the situation.
“You’re an actor,” replied Crosbie,”you’re playing up to the cameras.”
Gallagher seemed unfazed by the dramatics when he began his open workout ten minutes later, but Taylor proved to have more ammunition for the young Irishman later in the week.
Taylor Gets Political at the Presser
Taylor continued to captivate the gathered media at Wednesday’s press conference as he described Gallagher as “a little boy”, but the young jiu-jitsu ace didn’t appear to be being rattled by his insults at all.
‘Pretty Boy’ then reached for an ace in the hole and delivered a line that could result in some very uncomfortable situations if said in the wrong company in Ireland.
“This guy isn’t even from Ireland, he’s from Northern Ireland,” shouted Taylor from press conference line-up.
Given the historical and political nature of the barb, murmurs shot around the conference room at the Gibson Hotel, before Gallagher’s father stood up and told Taylor to be a little bit more cautious about what he was saying. At the other end of the line-up, Chris Fields warned a confused ‘King Mo’ that his fellow American should probably “shut his mouth.”
Speaking after the conference, Gallagher insisted that he would humiliate Taylor for his poor choice of words.
“It didn’t hit a nerve with me, I get to punch this guy in the face on Friday and that’s all I’m focusing on,” said Gallagher. “I’m just going to bide my time because this guy is going to get absolutely humiliated.
“My dad got a bit annoyed, but really, this guy shouldn’t be talking about this Ireland and Northern Ireland stuff. I’m from the North, and you just don’t say that kind of shit to us.
“It’s water off a duck’s back to me, I’m not going to take personally. I’ll get to get my message across to this guy on Friday night.”
Despite getting under the skin of a lot of Irish fans during the week, Taylor has definitely impressed Bellator brass, with Scott Coker suggesting that the pint-sized American could steal Gallagher’s momentum with a win tomorrow night.
“With ‘Pretty Boy’ here, we’re excited to see what happens. This, to me, is the beauty of MMA. You never know what’s going to happen. (When they’re) in that cage, I get to sit back and watch it unfold. It’s going to be a fun night on Friday night.”
Taylor believes he has made everyone aware of who he is and hopes to take Gallagher’s place as the promotion’s “golden boy” with a win.
“Gallagher is the ‘golden boy’, you know?” he said after the press conference on Wednesday.
“They’ve been feeding this guy bums and when I get in there and knock him out, everybody is going to be talking about ‘Pretty Boy’. I’m going to show him what a real man is.”
If Taylor talks half as well as he fights, it should be a very interesting matchup. However, with the home support more passionate about Gallagher than ever after Taylor’s antics during the week, it’s going to be very difficult to beat the SBG man, who probably feels like he is defending the honor of him gym after Taylor’s public call out of its fighters earlier in the week.
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