Leah McCourt To Be First Female To Main Event Bellator European Series

Northern Ireland’s Leah McCourt (3-1) is set to be the first female to headline a Bellator European Series cardalongside her opponent Judith Ruis (6-4)when the pair compete in the main event of Bellator Dublin, which takes place on Saturday February 22nd in the 3Arena.

Petesy Carroll of MMAFighting broke the news on Tuesday that an undisclosed injury (later revealed to be a back injury) had ruled James Gallagher out of his main event fight versus Cal Ellenor. The news came less than a week after SBG teammate Peter Queally was also ruled out of his own fight versus former Bellator 155lb champion Brent Primus, which had been scheduled to headline the Bellator 240 portion of the card. With Gallagher vs Ellenor scrapped from the card, Bellator moved swiftly to promote former IMMAF world champion McCourt up to the top spot.

Speaking to Severe MMA, McCourt described her excitement at receiving the news:

“Unbelievable! It’s surreal the position I’m in. I just keep thinking if people only knew where I was a year ago and how far I’ve come to this moment…it’s life changing!”

It’s not often a 3-1 pro is presented with the opportunity to headline an arena show, especially for a large MMA promotion like Bellator. While “The Curse” acknowledges that there are other more experienced fighters who could have been pushed to the main event, her focus is solely on the task at hand:

“My time in this position has come sooner than I thought, but everybody’s time to shine is different, and God’s timing is perfect. Yeah, there’s a lot of people who deserve to headline the card, but at the end of the day my focus is exactly the same. It’s the fight and going out and putting on a performance that will make my team proud and make myself proud. That’s all I care about, and it’s going to be a nice night for my daughter, as she’s going to be here with me for the first time.”

McCourta single mother who also runs a women-only MMA/self-defence program in Belfastis relishing the prospect of being the first female to headline a Bellator European Series event, and she believes that it says a lot about Bellator’s character as an organisation that supports and promotes females to the forefront of the sport:

” I feel like this is a big moment in Irish MMA history. Everybody should be celebrating that there’s a female on top of the card, and the fact that Bellator as an organisation lead from the front and follow their own path. Their treatment of female fighters (and females in general) sets themselves apart from any other organisation, and them giving me this opportunity really shows that. It shows that their morals and values as a company can really bring out the best in people. I believe that everything that it takes to be a champion is inside you, but it’s who you surround yourself with and the environment that you’re in that pulls it out of you. Just look at Cyborg last weekend. I feel like she looked the best she’s ever looked in her career!”

The SBG Charlestown fighter will face her most experienced opponent to date when she takes on Judith Ruis in just over 2 weeks, in front of what will likely be a sold-out 3Arena.

Andy Stevenson is a writer for SevereMMA. He is also an Irish expat currently backpacking the globe, and talks a lot of shite on Twitter.