South Shields taxi driver takes on intensive training at Sunderland gym for major MMA Bellator bout

An MMA fighter says he’s more confident than ever about stepping into the octagon as he prepares to fight in a new weight division.

James ‘The Juggernaut’ Mulheron, 30, from South Shields, who fights out of Fitness 2000 gym in Sunderland, has always fought as a heavyweight, but has shed two stone to make the cut for light heavyweight as he enters a new chapter in his career.

MMA fighter James Mulheron signed to promoter Bellator

MMA fighter James Mulheron signed to promoter Bellator

He will make his light heavyweight debut for Bellator at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on February 9 where he’s hoping to showcase his more nimble fighting style in front of a home crowd.

James, who juggles training with being a taxi driver for Richmond Taxis in South Shields, previously fought with UFC but says he has a renewed passion for the sport under his new contract with Bellator.

Speaking during one of his six-a-week training sessions at Fitness 2000 in Roker, he said: “I last fought in July 2017 so I’m dying to get back out there. I was signed to Bellator before UFC and once they found out I’d been released they pretty much signed me straight away so it’s great they have that confidence in me.

“Since I last fought I’ve found out I’m going to be a dad for the first time and I feel like it’s given me even more of an incentive with my fighting as I’m doing it for my family.”

James training at Fitness 2000 in Roker, Sunderland

James training at Fitness 2000 in Roker, Sunderland

The fight card will have a strong North East flavour with a headline bout from Sunderland fighter Ryan Scope who will take on Patricky Freire, as well as Newcastle fighter Aaron Chalmers in a co-main event lightweight bout.

It’s a gamble for James, who fights earlier in the night, to take a weight cut, after he became No1 in the UK and European Heavyweight division, but it’s one he believes will pay off.

“It’s a leap, but I really think it’s helped my fighting style,” explained James who is managed by Gbana Sports Management. “When you’re heavyweight you can rely more on your weight but I feel more nimble now, that I have more energy and that my moves are more refined.”

James’ head coach Darren Straughan said he’s impressed with the fighter’s performance in training.

MMA fighter James Mulheron signed to promoter Bellator

MMA fighter James Mulheron signed to promoter Bellator

“James’ No 1 attribute is his cardio, he’s a cardio machine and that’s quite unique,” he said. “As well as training here at Fitness 2000, he also does underwater swimming at Haven Point in Shields and he’s like a submarine under water. Swimming can often be overlooked by fighters but it really contributes to overall fitness.

“He’s fought heavyweight since he was a kid so it takes courage to change but it’s really worked for him. He’s got the speed and he’s got the athleticism and he feels really good about himself after the weight loss, which is really important for going into a fight.

“I really believe it won’t take him long to break into the top 10 in this weight division.”

Manager Les Ojugbana said: “As his manager, his team and I are looking forward to seeing James’ performance at his highest potential in the light heavyweight ranks. I feel it’s a great division for him and I know he will carry over his heavyweight success to the light heavyweight division and hopefully soon be fighting for the world title.

James with his heavyweight belt

James with his heavyweight belt

“He’s been a British and European champion for many years, the next stage is the world rankings, putting him on track for a future world title.”

Les Ojugbana of Gbana Sports Management

Les Ojugbana of Gbana Sports Management