This has been my second time to interview Bellator featherweight Leah McCourt and the same thought popped into my head at the end of both conversations.
” You need to start getting more out of your life amigo” was the PG version of the ramblings of my mind.
Out of all the winners from the Bellator Dublin card she is the one I get most frequently asked about. So I thought I would check in with her and see where she is at currently
As I suspected from our first Interview and following her progress since, this girl just never stops going. Grinding and edging towards her goals. Most Irish fans are familiar with the fact that Leah’s amateur pedigree is gold standard, she is a former world and european featherweight IMMAF champion. Those of us that follow her career are familiar with her as a talent. Again it is no surprise that she began her Bellator career in February with a decisive stoppage win against Hatice Oyzurt. Well of course….. she’s talented right?
The thing that sets her apart isn’t her talent, though she is undoubtedly that, it is something entirely different. Work ethic.
As we speak about the fight with Oyzurt you can detect the faint trace of admonishment with herself. She could have been a lot better is the argument with herself. This despite the serious injury in the run up to the event.
For those of you not aware – Leah McCourt had a serious rotator cuff injury to her right shoulder a few weeks before her Bellator debut. Unable to train properly bar throwing a few left jabs. For a woman whose go to strength is her grappling this is the worst possible type of injury to have in the lead up and the last worry she needed in the build up.
” I draw confidence from how hard I work in the gym, you know in my preparation – so to be not able to train in the lead up was a worry “
Opportunities like Bellator in Dublin last February don’t come along often. For women you can dial up the scarcity value. McCourt had two options. Pull out or Pull through. There was only ever going to be one answer to that question.
” I was worried about it in the weeks before – I just wanted to get in there and get the fight over with as quickly as I could. I just didn’t know how long the right arm would hold “
All the talent in the world is not a worth a damn to you unless you have the ultimate talent. The talent for hard work. The talent for the slog and repetitive boredom of the grind. The talent for going through the pain barrier. In this sport injuries are part and parcel of competing. Leah has all the above. Along with her natural skill and talent for the sport itself – well now you have an athlete that has the foundations to achieve great things.
Leah was just after finishing a strength and conditioning session when we spoke and revealed that she has just signed with a new S&C coach in Liverpool in order to make gains in this area. After taking time to chat with me she was on her way to a first outing with a new a sponsor.
The Belfast woman is already working with Owen Roddy of SBG fame on her striking and MMA in Dublin. This commitment is a 4 hour commute up and down.
Leah is a Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and very recently medalled in the European ADCC championships beating a black belt along the way. becoming a dual BJJ and MMA world champion is on her list of goals. She competes regularly on this front as her MMA fights can be quite irregular and she just has to be competing in one form or another.
Through our series of Women in Combat Interviews we have interviewed a lot of women in Irish combat sports. A good many of them are just starting out and finding their way. The number of them that have referenced Leah as a role model is very high. When I mentioned this fact to her she seemed happy to hear it but genuinely puzzled or surprised by the fact.
On top of her goals in MMA and BJJ she is currently very active on the coaching side of things and has a weekly women’s only MMA class. Coaching is something she is very passionate about and talks of one day, when her career is over, opening up her own academy.
Are you getting the picture now about work ethic.
Leah’s next scheduled fight is Bellator’s Dublin card in September. While most of the high profile male fighters on the early year Bellator cards are making their 2nd appearances right about now, Leah must wait till September – match making in the female divisions is still problematic and problematic means slow.
If there is a pull out or withdrawl on any of the summer Bellator attractions she is ready to step into the breach, she feels she is completely recovered from that rotorcuff injury, but as of now – Dublin in September is going to be her next outing. With an opponent to be named in due course. I sincerely hope it’s a main event slot with Sky Sports looking on.
Unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t tell you if Leah McCourt is going to make it to the top of the Bellator tree and beyond. What I can tell you, but in particular tell any of her future opponents is this. You better bring the best version of yourself to the table because you can be most certain the lady in the opposite corner will.
To contact Leah regarding her Womens MMA classes which run in 6 week blocks contact her from the information below or on her Facebook athletes page.