Leah McCourt: We Have Seen Nothing Yet
By Jack Rainbow
We last saw Leah McCourt in Bellator action back in February where she extended her unbeaten record by defeating Judith Ruis by unanimous decision. In many ways, things have changed for the Bellator prospect:
“It’s been a very difficult time for everyone, two weeks after my last fight the whole world went into lockdown. I went from the highest of highs to being locked down which was tough. After moving house I found out I needed shoulder surgery and since then I have been rehabbing my shoulder.”
Despite it being only the 5th fight of her career, late changes to the card saw Leah headlining. This was something way ahead of schedule in her young career:
“Headlining the card was a fairy tale. I was given such a big opportunity so early in my career. I often feel I have been thrust into bigger platforms and my experience shows.
“I wasn’t happy with my performance though. I have a lot of improvements and a lot more to show in the cage and I feel I only showed 10% of what I can do. I have had this injury since my first fight and I am looking forward to having a fight where this injury doesn’t impact my performance and that will show in my next fight.”
Despite the momentum gained through winning this fight, the pandemic plus a shoulder injury has resulted in Leah spending the majority of her 2020 rehabbing. However, she is excited about the prospect of fighting with a newly healed shoulder:
“At the minute my shoulders feeling back to 100%. When I had the surgery my surgeon said my shoulder was as bad as someone twice my age. Training is great at the minute though obviously difficult with all these lockdowns and restrictions, and trying to travel from Belfast from Dublin. So I am trying to get as much work in as possible and do what I always do, adapt and overcome, and the goal is to get better every day.”
The return of Leah seems likely to happen in Feburary. Although Leah knows the likely opponent she was quick to add that everything is in flux due to the complexity of organising a fight card with the restrictions ever-changing:
“I am pretty sure I’ll be back in Feburary, and it’s looking like it’s gonna be Janay Harding, but I don’t know. It depends on travel restrictions and quarantining on where the fight card is going to be. So I am just going to focus on getting the work in because the opponent could change.”
Leah seemed particularly harsh on her career performances, signaling she felt she had more to show:
“Looking back I don’t even like watching my fights! Definitely, I feel like I have a lot to show to people and in the next performance, I want to make it the performance of my career, show my skill and my fight IQ, and show how hard I work every day.
“The pandemic has made me realise even more how fortunate I am to be living my dream and the opportunities I have been given. I do overtrain and I was able to look at my schedule and re-evaluate it. I do that weekly anyway and evaluating always how I can improve my training.”
In changing up her training, Leah has been working with the WBC light-welterweight champion Chantelle Cameron. Leah spoke highly of Chantelle and warned flyweights if she ends up moving to MMA about her potential:
“Chantelle is a great friend of mine she’s a great person and super-talented and I can see her definitely being a multiple world champion. And if she wanted to make the transition to MMA I would say watch out 125ers as she is dangerous!”
In the summer Leah started working as a presenter for Bellator. This was clearly very enjoyable for her:
“I have absolutely loved presenting for Bellator, it gives me a totally different perspective looking at the work the Bellator staff do and the amazing work they do behind the scenes. It was amazing working with the US commentators and I am really grateful for the opportunity.
“Bellator is like a family so it was great to get out and spend time with the guys. It’s definitely something I can do alongside fighting I’m a fight fan and love being at the fights, I am a bit of a nerd so I can definitely see myself doing both.”
Activity is all that is craved by Leah now, so when asked where she wants to be in a year, I got a blunt yet clear reply on her aspirations:
“Within a year I want to have three fights and three wins in Bellator and that’s all I want!”
The return of Leah will most certainly be interesting, especially now she has a shoulder that is 100% for the first time in her career. Despite being victorious in every fight under the Bellator banner, Leah is adamant we have seen nothing yet.