For featherweight up-and-comer Anthony Taylor, losing his first bout as a pro to Adin Duenas at Bellator 174 a year ago was a sign he need to make some major changes.
Having previously relied a lot on natural talent, Taylor hooked up with father and son team Antonio and AJ McKee at Team Bodyshop MMA, changed his diet, and began the process of becoming a pro fighter.
“Previously throughout my amateur career, I never trained for a fight,” Taylor told MMAWeekly.com. “The majority of it was me just making weight, showing up and fighting.
“Once I lost my first fight as a pro in Bellator, it hit me that I definitely needed to take this seriously. That’s when I decided to become a serious fighter – I still want to have fun – but be a good fighter.”
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Taylor was able to rebound in his second pro fight with a 27-second KO of Victor Jones at Bellator 154 this past May.
“I got into the cage, circled around, and one punch at it was done,” said Taylor. “Ever since that fight, I realized my skillset had grown so much training with Antonio, and became a smarter harder fighter. Of course you’ve got to work hard, but you have to fight smart.”
Taylor (1-1) will look to pick up his second win in a row at Bellator 169 on Friday in Dublin, Ireland, against local top prospect James Gallagher (4-0) in the 145-pound co-main event.
“I definitely want to be on top and make him very uncomfortable,” Taylor said of Gallagher. “Definitely apply pressure and move around, make him down, beat him up on the ground, and grind it out for three rounds.
“You’re only as good as your last fight, and from the last fight of his I saw, it was a sloppy fight. He’s a very one-dimensional fighter. If he can’t get his way standing, he’s going to try to shoot, and if he does that, it’s going to play into my wrestling game.”
Upon getting serious about fighting and working towards building a strong career for himself, Taylor sees big things coming his way in 2017.
“I definitely want to show people that you don’t have to have high school or college athleticism, but (you can make it) if you work hard,” said Taylor. “I see myself definitely becoming bigger than MVP (Michael Page) and becoming a contender in the 145-pound division and definitely shining and rising up.
“I definitely see our team (Bodyshop MMA) coming up as a whole, as a group, and becoming a lot stronger. I have very high hopes. I come from the hood. I come from nothing. I have a chance to change my life, so I’m going out there to change my life.”