Leah McCourt - MMA fighter, mother and role model 4 months ago

Leah McCourt - MMA fighter, mother and role model

And seemingly destined for greatness.

Winning is second nature to Leah McCourt, with success seemingly following her wherever she goes. She won gold at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation European Open Championships in 2015 and she followed that up with winning another gold medal at the IMMAF World Championships in 2016. If you thought that it couldn't get any better for the County Down lady, she also is a World and European International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation champion at purple belt.

Oh yeah, she is also a black belt in judo. It's kind of obvious where this is going.

Unfortunately though, McCourt lost in her professional debut at Cage Warriors 85 and it was then when the Smithfield native decided to change things up and made the move to Straight Blast Gym Charlestown to train with renowned coach, Owen Roddy. A year later she recorded her first professional victory with a split decision win at Cage Warriors 94 in May of last year. A win is a win, no matter how it's earned and the subsequent move to train in Dublin seemed to have paid off. Speaking to SportsJOE, Roddy only had good things to say about McCourt.

"Leah is a true professional. Hardworking, skillful, focused and determined, with these qualities she can make it to the top of the game."

Leah McCourt (1-1) is getting ready to make her Bellator debut at the 3Arena this weekend, only eight months since her last fight. The 26 year old will take on Hatice Ozyurt (2-6) in a 145lbs contest and although on paper her opponent might not seem much of a threat to the Northern Ireland native, McCourt isn't writing her off and has done her research on the Dutchwoman. Speaking to SportsJOE at the Bellator Dublin press event, the amicable McCourt said:

" I know my opponent is a dangerous striker, people have said about her record but her record doesn't reflect her experience. She has 100 K1 and Muay Thai fights, she's 71-13, she's a serious threat and that's what me and Owen are looking at...

"She's going to come out striking and she's going to be dangerous so I'm going to look to implement my game plan."

Fight week can be extremely tough for a fighter, having to face endless media events while cutting weight and trying to focus at the task ahead. McCourt, however, didn't seem bothered and appeared excited and happy to be at the Bellator media day. She said she was, "feeling good, nice and relaxed, in Dublin so don't have to travel anywhere, so its a wee-bit calmer than normal".

Even though McCourt has moved her training camp from Belfast down to Roddy's SBG in Dublin, she hasn't moved houses. Amazingly, Leah makes a four hour car journey everyday to the Big Smoke which just shows her sheer drive and determination to succeed and get the best training available to her. She trains twice a day working in many forms of martial arts such as boxing, muay thai, bjj and wrestling constantly adding techniques to her arsenal and still finds the time to incorporate cardio and strength training in between.

In addition to all of this, McCourt is a proud mother to daughter, Isabella, giving her all the attributes needed to be a role model for all mothers and women out there. Speaking on what life is like being a professional fighter as well as a mother and if she found it tough going at times, McCourt didn't feel it was any different to working your normal, everyday job.

"Well, I just feel like it's any other job, like, because, you know, I hate when professional athletes look down at normal people who work 9 to 5 jobs, I admire them and I respect them. I feel lucky that I'm known to being a fighter. I probably spend more time with Isabella than I do with anybody else, so, it's just my job, you get used to it."

Regardless of the outcome on Saturday night, the female featherweight doesn't plan on sitting back and taking a rest. "I'm going to be doing the ADCC trials. The European trials are in April with the aim of that taking me towards the ADCC Worlds and then obviously, I'll hopefully fight again in May, if I can, I know Bellator have a couple of cards on but I just want to keep really active, fighting and competing."

With the crowd, hype and oddsmakers right behind Leah McCourt this weekend, there is only one outcome expected on Saturday night. Win, lose or draw it won't be the last we see of her.