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It's business as usual for Leah on historic night



Leah McCourt

Leah McCourt

�INPHO/Gary Carr

Leah McCourt

Saintfield's Leah McCourt insists she won't be overawed by the occasion when she becomes the first female to headline a Bellator card in Europe tonight.

McCourt, whose record is 3-1, will make history when she fights Germany's Judith Ruis in a featherweight clash at Dublin's 3Arena.

The 27-year-old was bumped up to the main bout when Strabane fighter James Gallagher was forced to pull out of his fight with Cal Ellenor - which has since been rescheduled for the SSE Arena in London in May.

Ahead of tonight's fight, McCourt has revealed that she's approaching it as just another fight and not focusing on the fact that she's making history.

"It was surreal and emotional when I got the call to say I was headlining. There has been so much hard work and sacrifice leading me to this moment," said McCourt.

"It has probably come three years earlier than I would have expected. Given the journey I have been on, this will make every single second worthwhile.

"However, I don't think I will take it all in fully until after the fight - I have to treat it as 'business as usual' as best I can. It's on the same night that I had been planning for, in the same arena with the same crowd, which has always been my focus."

While McCourt will be the favourite to win tonight's fight, she's not taking anything for granted against Ruis, who will provide a tough opponent as the Northern Irish woman continues her rise through the ranks.

"She has an experienced record and is a bit of a grappler, but I tend not to over-think my opponents," McCourt added.

"I just can't wait to get in there, hear the cage door lock and start performing the way I know I can.

"I don't focus on one particular area, there are so many ways to win a fight and that's what makes MMA so exciting."

The rest of the main card at the 3Arena sees Charlie Ward (Ireland) meet Kyle Kurtz (USA) in a middleweight fight, while Aaron Chalmers (England) and Austin Clem (USA) meet at welterweight level.

Belfast Telegraph