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Molly McCann is backing training partner and short-notice Bellator Dublin headliner Leah McCourt to get the job done when she faces Judith Ruis in the 3 Arena on Saturday night.
Despite being just 3-1 as a professional, “The Curse” was selected by Bellator to stand in for the injured James Gallagher when he was forced from his main event clash with Cal Ellenor. Bellator are currently working on rebooking the bantamweight clash, MMA Fighting has learned.
McCann has been working alongside McCourt for a number of years and described how she was similarly thrust into a main event spot during her championship run with Cage Warriors.
“Exactly the same thing happened to me,” McCann told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
“When I fought for the world title, I was the co-main event and it was only when Lee Chadwick got injured two weeks before the fight that I got the main event. I told [McCourt], ‘I know everything you are feeling right now.’”
Despite not having a wealth of professional experience, McCourt has been of the most talked about Bellator fighters in the U.K. and Irish mainstream press since her debut. McCann has urged the Northern Irish fighter to focus on her training instead of getting bogged down in interviews ahead of the milestone fight.
“It is that overwhelming feeling of…that amount of press she’s got is obviously more than any other main card fighter would’ve got. I told her: ‘You’ve got to take it in your stride and don’t feel obliged to answer [the media] there and then. Your training comes first and then the media obligations come second, don’t stress yourself out about that too much.’”
McCann is adamant that McCourt has found a new gear in her training since being announced as the new main event for the Dublin show.
“If I’m talking about fire under arse…I’m talking about since that moment that Leah got that main event,” said McCann.
“You know she puts it on the line every single time and you know she travels everywhere for training and the commute she does everyday just to be the best there. I said, ‘This is your reward for everything that you’ve worked for, so don’t go putting too much pressure on yourself. You gotta sit there, and when Stormzy plays when you walk out, just look at that 3 Arena there for you. Take this is in because this is why you’re doing it.”
The Liverpool flyweight revealed how both she and McCourt have had the same goal of achieving main event status at home event.
“Mine and Leah’s goals are much the same. I wanted to headline Liverpool and she wanted to headline in Belfast or Dublin…and she’s doing it…and a lot quicker than I did it! I’m just so buzzing, I can’t even get main card on a UFC card and my mate’s 3-1 and headlining. I’m like, ‘Leah, you are flying!’ The best thing is; there’s never one ounce of jealousy. It’s just a pure will for your training partner to win and it’s great!”
While “Meatball” believes that Bellator Dublin could be a star making outing for McCourt, she is adamant that the SBG Charlestown fighter must take her time as she scales the Bellator featherweight ranks.
“I’ve told her before, ‘You’re at the highest point of your career, so you have to be smart.’ She’s never once shied away from any opponent given to her. I told her, ‘You’re going to be headline now, so don’t be rushed into taking the Cyborg fight if it comes next fight or the fight after, because you’ve still got some growing to do. This isn’t about dodging, it’s about being ready in your career at the right time,” she explained.
“Katie Taylor is the biggest female sports star in the world now and then you’ve got Northern Ireland’s Leah McCourt. She’s gonna take it and transcend it to the next level also. That island, the island as a whole, is producing some world class talent at the minute.”
Check out Molly McCann’s interview on this week’s Eurobash. It begins at (48:00).
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