Leah McCourt is ready to kick start her Bellator MMA career in 2021 | MMA News

first_imgBelfast’s Leah McCourt says she is ready to kick start her MMA career in 2021 and become a serious contender in Bellator’s featherweight division.It has been a challenging 2020 for McCourt who has undergone shoulder surgery during lockdown in order to help her better prepare for her next fight, which is unlikely to take place until next year now.- Advertisement – Leah McCourt workout McCourt doesn’t have a date for return bout but is loosely working towards being cage-ready at the start of 2021 and building on her 4-1 career record. And for McCourt, the pandemic has underscored the importance of being busy.“Opportunities are so few in MMA anyway, now I’m definitely going to appreciate them even more.”Unpleasant recovery Leah 'The Curse' McCourt - MMA BellatorImage:‘The Curse’ underwent the knife on long-standing shoulder problem 2:23 McCourt’s physical concern may linger, but she says the psychological impact of early lockdown has dissipated with being able to train again. After the euphoria of headlining and winning in Dublin in late February, COVID-19 curtailed any extended celebration.“I had the highest of highs in the arena and I went to Dubai on holiday. Then I came back and everything was locked down. Usually, I’m out of the house at 7am to 11 at night. Always busy, training, coaching, working, looking after Isabella. I really didn’t like being locked in the house,” McCourt said.A challenging lockdown McCourt would be excited to see Cris Cyborg take on Katie Taylor in the boxing ring, but doesn’t believe it’ll happen due to the size difference McCourt is also appreciating feeling fit and healthy. While COVID-19 put her career on hold, it allowed her to get surgery on a long-standing shoulder problem in July. But the recovery has not been pleasant.- Advertisement – Cris Cyborg and Katie Taylor - MMA & Boxing McCourt’s world shrunk to just caring for her daughter, Isabella. And she said, mentally, the lack of activity was challenging.“There are benefits like being in the house with Isabella, spending time with her. My mind though… I’m used to being busy. And it’s been extremely tough. I was lucky to get away with Bellator (as an analyst), we did the Paris and Milan shows in the Euro series and it was good to get back to some normality.”True normal service will be resumed when McCourt re-enters the cage. She’s keen to resurrect her fight with Australian Janay Harding (5-4) that was slated for May in London before being cancelled.“I’d love for her to be my next opponent. I think she’s a good step up. She’s talented. I don’t think her record shows how good she is. She’s a good striker, nice and clean.“I think it would be good fight for me to have. But Bellator know, I’ll just say yes to whoever they say and I really don’t care!”Cyborg’s the target – Advertisement – Leah McCourt - Bellator MMA Cris Cyborg MMAImage:McCourt has the legendary Cris Cyborg in her sights While the immediate future has been clouded by the Coronavirus crisis, McCourt’s long-term goal remains crystal clear: she wants to be a world champion. She’s not sure though if that will involve a clash with current featherweight champion, MMA legend Cris Cyborg.“Cris is a champion of my division. Even though I feel it’s inevitable I’m going to be a world champion in Bellator, I don’t when my time comes if she’s still going to be the champion. But I was a champion in the amateurs and believe I will be in the pros.”McCourt says one positive to come from the go-slow of the pandemic has been the time to reflect on her strengths and weaknesses and make adjustments. She’s made technical tweaks, but says the biggest difference will be in her general approach.“Committing to myself and believing in myself. When I get in there, I’ve got a good skill-set, I can do everything. But maybe on the night I’m not putting everything together. It’s about really committing to everything, to my takedowns to my shots and making them cleaner.”Dream fight: Cyborg vs Taylor? She said: “I couldn’t sleep for four weeks with the pain. I was on morphine tablets. I just couldn’t sleep. I’ve never felt pain like it. It’s been hard. But I’m about 14 weeks post surgery now and I’m back striking, back drilling, strengthening it again and trying to get fit!”McCourt concedes she still has a psychological barrier to get past regarding the shoulder, but believes the focus of an upcoming fight will compel her to commit fully to physical contact.“Even in grappling, I’m wary when it comes to my shoulder. But a few weeks into camp, into training, I’ll be forced to use it, to use it my takedowns and everything. But there’s definitely that mental thing of ‘I don’t want to injury my shoulder again’.” 1:21 McCourt lives in Belfast and trains in Dublin and feels like the mooted cross-over boxing match between Cyborg and two-weight boxing world champion Katie Taylor would be a huge event in Ireland. But she is concerned that the women are physically mismatched.“I think there’s a big size difference! Cyborg’s a good bit bigger than Katie. They’ve never been the same weight class. But Cyborg has achieved so much more in MMA and it would be great to see her take on the boxing challenge. I think that would be so exciting for female martial arts, but I don’t’ know if it could ever happen.” In need of some Lockdown II motivation? Bellator’s McCourt has some workouts that you can easily do at home ‘The Curse’ McCourt, who hails from Saintfield in County Down, created history by becoming the first female to headline an event for Bellator Europe in Dublin back in February.She defeated Germany’s Judith Ruis via unanimous decision, sending a packed 3Arena, including her daughter Isabella, into raptures.“I’m really excited and really motivated for my next fight. I feel like in my last fights my performances have been hampered by injuries,” McCourt told Sky Sports.- Advertisement –last_img

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