McCourt prepares for all-Irish battle

McCourt prepares for all-Irish battle

12 January 2022

SAINTFIELD mixed martial artist Leah McCourt is currently preparing for “the biggest Irish fight of all time” which is set to take place next month.

The 29 year-old will take on Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator Dublin on February 25, in what is being touted as a “historic” night for the sport throughout the island.

“It’s probably the biggest Irish fight of all time,” said McCourt.

“We’re the two highest-ranked Irish fighters in a major promotion and we’re fighting each other in Dublin. It’s definitely going to be a moment for history.

She added: ”This is definitely going to be up there as a special occasion because it’s such a big fight for Ireland that we’re fighting in Dublin.”

McCourt, who has six wins and one defeat, is less experienced than her opponent Kavanagh, who recently made history when she became the first Irishwoman to compete for a Bellator world title.

The local fighter will be encouraged that Kavanagh lost that bout, which added to her now five losses on her 12 fight record.

Despite Gegard Mousasi’s middleweight title defence against Austin Vanderford headlining the event, the undercard bout between the two Irish women is shaping up to be the main attraction.

Both competitors are well known to each other, having sparred together down the years. 

However, McCourt says despite the familiarity, nothing is personal for her.

“Nothing’s ever personal for me when I fight somebody,” she said.

“I know it’ll be a fight from the start. We both like to finish in our own ways,” she continued.

“I think about my development and Sinead is a great fight, a great test for me.

“It’s the type of fight I need in my career to get better. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so excited for a fight.”

McCourt is also a regular visitor to renowned coach John Kavanagh’s SBG Gym in Dublin, where her opponent trains.

Kavanagh, who is most recognised for coaching UFC star Conor McGregor, reiterated claims of the magnitude of this upcoming fight, describing it as “one of the biggest national fights” and certainly “the biggest Irish female fight of all time”.

A victory in this bout will surely open the door for McCourt’s highly sought after title shot against champion Cris Cyborg. However, McCourt, nicknamed ‘The Curse’, is not looking past her most important fight to date in next month’s proceedings.

“If you can experience Bellator Dublin, you have to go because in this world and everything that’s going on, that type of energy you feel in that arena is not normal,” she said.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s special. It’s not normal. Unless you’re there you don’t understand how special it is.”