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'It's about the journey': Leah McCourt in disbelief after historic Bellator triumph

 

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Leah McCourt on her way to victory over Judith Ruis in their women’s featherweight bout at Bellator Dublin

Leah McCourt on her way to victory over Judith Ruis in their women’s featherweight bout at Bellator Dublin

Leah McCourt on her way to victory over Judith Ruis in their women’s featherweight bout at Bellator Dublin

Saintfield's Leah McCourt admitted it hadn't quite sunk in yet after she made history at Bellator Dublin on Saturday night.

McCourt became the first woman to win a headline fight on a European MMA card when she defeated Germany's Judith Ruis by unanimous decision in their featherweight clash at the 3Arena in Dublin.

After a bruising contest, which saw McCourt survive a submission attempt from Ruis in the first round, the decision went to the judges' scorecards with the officials ruling 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 in favour of the Northern Ireland fighter.

The win is McCourt's fourth in a row and sees her professional record improve to 4-1 as she continues to rise up through the ranks in the MMA world.

And having picked up the victory at the 3Arena, the 27-year-old confessed it might take some time to hit home just how important this win was, however she did add that it made all the hard work worth it.

"I haven't really taken it in yet. It does feel like it's paid off tonight," said McCourt, who had the likes of boxing superstar Carl Frampton in attendance to support her.

"It means so much. The outcome isn't the important thing, it's always about the journey. We've come up as a team and it's nice for us all to get the victory."

The fight was initially playing second billing to Strabane man James Gallagher's fight with Cal Ellenor, however after the former had to withdraw due to injury, McCourt's bout with Ruis was bumped up to the main event.

The clash didn't leave anyone short-changed, though, with the two women battling through three brutal rounds, with the judges needed to settle the verdict.

Ruis had said that she wanted to get the fight on the floor, and she did so in the first two rounds when the pair were evenly matched.

But McCourt was able to dominate the third by keeping the German at bay with her superior reach.

Earlier in the night on the main card, Ireland's Charlie Ward picked up a big win over American Kyle Kurtz. However, there was disappointment for Aaron Chalmers, who was beaten on a unanimous points decision by Austin Clem.

Belfast Telegraph