Dolores Gallagher CW11: From Fear of Domestic abuse to Conquering the Cage

Cage Legacy 11 takes place this coming Saturday in Finnstown Castle and a fighter making her MMA debut on the card is Dolores Gallagher.

Dolores was kind enough to have a quick chat with Combat Arena and talk to us about the two and half years she has spent in combat sports getting ready for her debut.

Gallagher fights out of Fight Academy Ireland on the westside of Belfast and will be competing in a featherweight contest against Liv Prendergast. The interesting thing to note for me, is that Dolores’ first MMA exposure came via one of Leah McCourt’s 6 week introductory courses for women.


Leah herself successfully debuted for Bellator on the recent Bellator 217 card in Dublin and does a remarkable job of promoting these women’s classes on her various social media platforms. The classes are obviously bearing fruit as Dolores readily name checks Leah as someone who has inspired her to dream that a career in mixed martial arts is possible.

Early in our conversation I asked a question and I was totally unprepared for the answer. It was a simple enough one. How did she become immersed in combat sports?

Dolores Gallagher was the victim of domestic abuse in a relationship. She got into the sport as method of learning self defence. Thankfully that relationship is now very firmly in her rear-view mirror.

My instinct was to move on quickly from the topic but as we continued to chat away easily – I circled back around to it again to see if she was OK to talk about it further. Indeed she was. In fact she is at pains to point out how important it is to talk about these things and not keep them bottled up.

I asked Dolores if she felt that period of her life is a period that she has been able to draw a line under and move on from or is it a daily battle still.

She frankly admits that it can be a daily struggle and that issues like domestic abuse leave both physical and mental scars. She strikes me as someone who has the courage to overcome these scars and fears.

This is a subject I very much would like to follow up with her at a future date as it deserves a much more comprehensive discussion and not to be merely parcelled neatly in a piece about her fight.


Part of the healing process has been martial arts. She absolutely loves it. Whether it be boxing, grappling or now MMA. As she talks about her daily routine and the limits she is pushing – I am in no doubt about the sincerity of the love affair.

Liam Sammon and Patrick McAllister are the coaches putting her through her paces in preparation for this fight. Gallagher set herself some goals at the beginning of 2019 for her career.

  1. Make her amateur debut in MMA
  2. Compete in at least 4 or 5 grappling tournaments and medal
  3. Be is a position to turn pro within a couple of years

This Saturday goal number 1 will be ticked off. She has already medaled at a Trident grappling tournament so goal number 2 is well underway also.

If all of this isn’t fascinating enough Dolores has an academic background steeped in the Arts. She is a very, very accomplished musician and singer and was signed by a record label which led to the production of an EP. You can check out her stuff on Youtube.


She has also attended Farnborough college of performing arts in the UK. However she is very clear that once she found martial arts she knew that all of these other talents would need to take a back seat. She is laser focused on an MMA career and has been pretty much from the beginning.

To that end she has switched into studying as a fitness instructor and has completed a number of the certifications with more to follow.

Indeed that is a good description of this lady and where she is in her life…..More to follow. Much more.

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