#WhereNowWednesday: Leah McCourt looks ahead to big 2016 super fight


2015 IMMAF European Open Championships Lightweight Gold medallist Leah McCourt would ‘love to fight the 145lb European winner’ Sanna Merta in her quest for more MMA experience. For #WhereNowWednesday, Northern Ireland’s McCourt recaps what she has been up to since taking Gold in Walsall, England. “I’m back to my routine, training everyday and working with my coach Patrick McAlister on mistakes and opportunities I didn’t capitalise on in my fights at the European Championships. Even though I won I’m a perfectionist and I always want to improve,” said McCourt. Representing the Ulster Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Association (UAMMAA), McCourt stormed to prominence at the European Open with two wins over Finnish counterparts. She defeated Finland’s Sini Koivunen by armbar in the semi-final, before notching a unanimous decision over Mia Isola in the final. The Northern Irish champion also admitted the importance of gaining experience at amateur level, and the struggle to gain that in K-1 and MMA as opposed to grappling. “I’ve only been doing MMA for just over a year and a half and I want to fight and get as much experience as possible which is a lot harder for girls. We’re aiming for my next fight to be at 66kg so my coach is looking for opponents. I think it’s important to get as much as experience in all martial arts as possible, so I compete as much as I can in grappling tournaments, but getting K-1 fights and MMA fights is nearly impossible.” Aside from her progression in MMA, McCourt is looking to further her  competitive experience over the coming months, competing around the world in Judo. “I’m a Black belt in Judo and current IBJJF European N0-Gi champion at blue belt. I’ll be competing in Nice, France in February to qualify for the Abu Dhabi World Championships again. I also qualified for the ADCC European trials by winning the ADCC British trials so I will be heading to compete at that when the dates are released.” As for her MMA credentials, McCourt admits she would love to face another Fin – IMMAF European Open Featherweight champion Sanna Merta – and looks forward to 2016. “In the mean time if any 145lbs are looking for fights, I’d love to fight the 145lb IMMAF European winner [Sanna Merta] soon. I am looking forward to the 2016 IMMAF World Championships as I got more fights in two days at the Europeans than I did in a year looking for fights myself. It’s a great opportunity for female fighters.”

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