Irish MMA fighter Leah McCourt will become the first woman to headline a Bellator Europe card as she takes on Germany’s Judith Ruiz at Bellator Dublin, in a featherweight bout on the 22 February in the 3Arena.
The Irish woman who trains at Straight Blast Gym Charlestown is set to headline one of MMA’s biggest shows after injury has ruled out James Gallagher.
Bellator Europe was introduced in 2019 to make a significant move into the European market and features a host of both international stars and local talent competing under the bright lights in large venues.
The magnitude of this cannot be understated with women taking centre stage at one of the biggest MMA shows of the year. McCourt has constantly been pushing boundaries and paving the way for more Irish female MMA fighters to rise through the ranks.
To add to this, for McCourt to be making history on Irish soil is special. In an Instagram post, McCourt said she was “ready to make history”.
"Given the news, that I will be main event at Bellator Dublin. It's hard to believe that a single mum from a council estate in Belfast will be main event in a sold out at 3Arena in Dublin live on Channel 5.
"I have clawed my way up from the bottom, life has thrown everything at me, but my determination has never wavered.
"This moment is a testament to my faith, work ethic, my team, my family and never giving up.
"To be the first Irish female to ever headline a major MMA promotions card and the first female to headline a Bellator Europe card is surreal and emotional.
"I’m ready to rise to the occasion. Trust me, this will be a main event performance. Ready to make history."
View this post on Instagram
Last night I was given the news, that I will be main event at Bellator Dublin. Its hard to believe that a single mum from a council estate in Belfast will be main event in a sold out @3arena in Dublin live on @channel5_tv . I have clawed my way up from the bottom, life has thrown everything at me, but my determination has never waivered, this moment is a testament to my faith, work ethic, my team, my family and never giving up. To be the first Irish female to ever headline a major MMA promotions card and the first female to headline a @bellatoreurope card is surreal and emotional. I’m ready to rise to the occasion. Trust me, this will be a main event performance. Ready to make history. Thank-you to @bellatormma, @mikekogan and @judesamuels for this opportunity. I wish @strabanimal a speedy recovery and thanks for bringing Bellator to Europe. If it wasn’t for a superstar like James, a lot of us wouldn’t have this platform, still be fighting for pennies and jobless. Born for such a time as this. This is for you Isabella! #HISTORY . . . ???? Commision from all tickets bought from me are going to @friends_of_the_cancer_centre so contact me @ezacharopoulou or @air.una to order. Sponsors: any businesses that would like to join my team contact me. Sponsors & Team @coachowenroddy/ @sbgcharlestown / @teamtorreshq/ @ifitni / @lifelikemedia / @rayginleyboxing / @air.una/ @meatballmolly / @ezacharopoulou / @hazardharvey / @lindseydoylept /@slimshealthykitchen/ @mikemccomishfitness / @boojummex/ @a_mcgreevy/ @healing_heat/ @virusintl/ @thephysiogroupni/ @thecbdfarmacy
The 27-year-old is on a three-fight winning streak, with her last two victories coming in the Bellator.
McCourt’s work ethic and passion is unrivalled as she travels to Dublin daily, training three times a day and runs her own martial arts class. She trains out of SBG Charlestown under coach Owen Roddy.
Towards the end of 2019, the Saintfield native signed an exclusive six-fight deal. Her fight against Ruiz this February is set to be the first of six. The deal came after she took her professional record to 3-1 as she defeated England's Kerry Hughes in Dublin's 3Arena last September.
McCourt is a 2015 gold medallist at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation European Open Championships, 2016 gold medallist at the IMMAF World Championships as well as a World and European International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation champion at purple belt.
The budding star looks set to continue to establish herself as one of the best featherweights in Europe and will look to mark the historic occasion in February with a scintillating performance.