Leah McCourt is one of the most sought after prospects in amateur mixed martial arts. A look at the 24-year-old’s list of achievements makes it easy to see why.
In 2015 McCourt became Northern Ireland’s first IMMAF gold medallist, emerging from the 155 pound tournament as European Champion.
The following year McCourt went one better, winning gold at the IMMAF World Championships. This time she competed at 145 pounds, a division crying out for emerging talent.
European fans have been eagerly awaiting McCourt’s move to the professional ranks ever since. Speaking on the Mind Diet podcast this week, the fighter confirmed her plans for taking the next step in her career.
“There’s no secret, I’ll be making my pro debut soon. It’ll most likely be May or June.” McCourt explained. If it wasn’t for a hand injury that the fighter picked up when winning gold at the IMMAF World’s last year, that debut might already have happened.
“My goal was to turn pro at the start of this year. I’ve been practising plenty of elbows and foot locks. I can’t wait to do those in a fight. I think it’s time to go professional. There’s not a lot more for me to achieve as an amateur. My team and I feel like I’m ready, so we were set to go pro at the start of this year, but with my hand it’s a bit of a setback. It will be later in the year I’ll probably have my first pro fight.”
BAMMA and Cage Warriors sit atop the UK branch of European mixed martial arts. The events of both promotions are now broadcast live on UK television, and their alumni regularly end up competing in the UFC and Bellator.
McCourt expects her professional debut to take place at an event promoted by one of the UK’s leading MMA organisations.
“Two of the big promotions were very, very keen to have me on and it was just about making the right decision for me and what suited me. BAMMA’s coming to Belfast and they were keen to have me on that show, and then fighting on Cage Warriors, so it was kinda between them two about where I’d be making my pro debut.
“The main thing is the opponent. That’s what I’m actually worrying about at this stage, not the promotion. Because regardless of what promotion I’m in if I’m 4 or 5 and 0 I’ll be in the UFC anyway. That’s my focus is just my training and that type of thing, but Summer time hopefully May, June I’ll be fighting in my pro debut.”
The Mind Diet Podcast is the brain child of renowned Muay Thai commentator and mind coach, Vinny Shoreman, alongside co-hosts Andreas Georgiou and Roberto Reid. The full interview, which covers McCourt’s rise through the amateur ranks, what keeps her driven and grounded in equal measure, and the demise of Ronda Rousey, is available here.
Michael ‘GIP’ Cutting BACK! in 2018; Wants Anthony ‘Pretty Boy’ Taylor in the Bellator MMA Cage!
After losing his Bellator debut to talented Irish prospect, James Gallagher at Bellator 158 – Daley vs. Lima. There was some potential for self-loathing. A near 17 months on, and after making a re-overture to Bellator MMA President: Mr. Coker, it would seem as if Michael ‘GIP’ Cutting now has that drive to fight again.
@ScottCoker @BellatorMMA give me another chance everyone deserve to have the chance to put things right and make mistakes right let's get a contract together in 2018 I'll be ready my first fight back me vs pretty boy let's go to work 🇬🇧vs 🇺🇸
— Michael Gip Cutting (@Gip_Cutting) November 30, 2017
Speaking with MMA Latest, Michael details the drive behind his intent for that return.
“My missus has stood by me through it all and has pushed me to fight for what I want. At times I was going to leave it all behind, she taught me that it’s better to try and fail then to not try at all. If I don’t try I’ll have already failed. Win or lose she has my back and she’s with me for me, she cooks all my meals – pushing me to train. So I thank her for all her support and hope she knows how much I appreciate and love her. The last year has taught me so much, good and bad. I’ve realized that if I want it that bad, I’ve got to fight for it and I need to do it now. Let’s face it, fighting is what I know. So Michael ‘GIP’ Cutting is coming back stronger and better than ever. I was fighting at 50% of my skill-set and just having too much fun; now don’t get me wrong – I’ll still have fun but Nothing and Nobody will get in my way this time. I’ve let too much stop me from getting my dreams and my goals in the past and it has cost me so much; well no more, that’s for sure! 2018 is my year and I’m coming back for the wins ‘kill or be killed’ this time! I’m doing this for me, my girlfriend and my three children in hoping one day I can give them the life I dream of. Everyone deserves a second chance – so where’s mine; I’m waiting!”
With Michael’s micro intent detailed, what is Michael’s long-term (macro) aspirations?
“My aim is to get to the UFC one day! The determination is real and I don’t care who I have to fight or how many fights it takes; I will get there! I will be making weight at every fight after working hard and continuing to do so; my game plan is different; my thought process has changed! I’m a different person. I move, think and train differently to others! My first goal after I’ve made weight and won my fight in May 2018 [return fight at Featherweight; previously Featherweight & Bantamweight], I’m looking to get on the Bellator MMA roster at 145; under (exclusive) contract with that promotion!”
Human resources can run thin sometimes; that’s true with the mental capacity’s ability to endure; process; then manage all personal distractions and demons that come into our life from outside or inside sources. The focus on one’s career as well as persisting personal unhappiness – it raises ”what is the point!’. It would seem as if Michael’s love & passion for MMA; the reason he got into Martial Arts & MMA will be the beacon for personal achievement; a beacon for fulfillment; a beacon for happiness, along with his family’s love & support to carry that motivation going forth.
“Fighting is what I do, it’s in my blood and since the first day I witnessed guys like Royce Gracie, Anderson Silva, and B.J Penn perform MMA and the technique behind it all”, Michael tells MMA Latest.
“I knew it was something I had to do. And now honestly, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else! jujitsu and MMA saved me from being like the other kids from my town: doing nothing and going nowhere in life. I didn’t want that for me. I became a black belt in 2 years of training at jujitsu under my instructor a good friend, Michael Magary. I’m now a 2-time jujitsu world champion!”
So with Michael placing his marker tentatively, but meaningfully down on the 2018 MMA calendar – what mat, and what frames would Michael desire to show his art, and newfound regime at/against? We’ve already viewed the re-overture to Scott Coker via a tweet, and Michael’s May 2018 debut stated above. Let’s potentially dial in further to the canvas Michael would like to showcase his art for.
— Michael Gip Cutting (@Gip_Cutting) November 2, 2017
“I’m determined now more than ever to get back into the cage and choke the first neck I can. I’m back, trust me! Anthony ‘pretty boy’ Taylor called me out a year ago, calling me a ‘bum’ making it personal – so now I want his neck or any limbs. let’s make this fight happen Bellator MMA. He will be my first fight back in that Bellator cage and he will be my first win at putting everything right and making a big comeback.”
Wishful thinking or intents of a man who knows he will get what he wants? They say “if you work hard enough and believe enough, you’ll achieve anything”. We’ve witnessed foundation to such statements coming to fruition in MMA before. Conor McGregor is what some would call ‘special’, or maybe he’s a man who desired & Aspired. That said, Scott Coker will be the determining factor towards giving the green light towards Cutting stepping into the Bellator MMA cage; unless Bellator MMA work alongside a third party promotion, such as ATAK Promotions like a previous London Bellator MMA Event. Is a tweet enough, or will Cutting have to earn his spot on the full-time Bellator MMA roster? It would seem as if Cutting has the desire to earn his spot if must, but you need a platform to progress up those levels.
Cutting has had few trying to blacklist him from U.K MMA cards. The MMA world in the U.K is a small one. It’s hard to break into that international MMA scene, and even more tougher to break out onto the North American MMA scene from the U.K. Conor McGregor said it best when he coached Season 22 of the Ultimate Fighter to his European Team (paraphrasing) “you guys have had the harder road than those in the other locker room”.
Michael’s experience and abilities alone should be enough to secure a spot on many various MMA European events. Can Micheal push through the stone wall that certain individuals have placed in front of him? Will Michael get that opportunity? He has the credentials – having already showcased his abilities on the BAMMA and Bellator MMA canvases.
Some would be happy enough with that achievement alone. Micheal isn’t done achieving and won’t be kept down, no matter what. That should be music to any regional/second tier promoters ears. You want a reliable guy who you know has an unnerved desire to make it to the top. Michael ticks the skill/desire/reliable boxes to make a Champion for any region second-tier promotion. Will Micheal be granted his wishes; will he be given a chance by Bellator MMA President: Scott Coker? Will Michael attain his goals for 2018? We can’t answer those questions, but i ask you to keep an eye out and show support to a family man trying to provide a better life for his family, with the only thing he knows how to, and that is through his passion.
After a torrid 2016; an inactive 2017 – What will Mike Cutting title 2018?
Rany Saadeh pleased with the opportunities ACB brings, promises a finish in his debut on Saturday
The BAMMA Flyweight belt was ruled for years by none other than Rany Saadeh, During his reign as champion he successfully defended the belt on two occasions. His dominance over the division saw him go undefeated in BAMMA and without a loss since 2012. Following the expiration of his contract, Rany vacated his BAMMA belt to explore new challenges.
He has now signed with ACB and is set to make his debut in only a matter of days at ACB 74 in Austria where he will take on Darren Mima. In a recent catch up with Rany, he explained his reasoning behind joining ACB and his goals in the promotion.
“ACB is the fastest growing organization in MMA. They’ve promised me an active career with events all over the world and a tempting bonus structure. It was just what I was looking for. I’ve looked into the competition and I can honestly say that the competition at flyweight is just as good, if not even better than in the UFC. Being the ACB title holder would make me a legit world champion.”
Ahead of his bout with Mima, we are set to see some new stuff from Saadeh as he claims to have changed up his style after a solid camp for this fight, guaranteeing us a surprise.
“I didn’t need to change anything for him but my style changed in general since my last fight. I’ve had an excellent camp with high-level training partners and coaches. I’m very grateful for my coaches who have put hours of private work into me this year. Especially with my new boxing coach Luciano Robledo, I can guarantee a surprise.”
The confidence is evident as he tells me how he sees the fight going. Promising his well-rounded arsenal of both strikes and grappling are worthy of bonuses, something he’d be very keen on considering the set-up in ACB.
“I will not just completely dominate but also finish.” He began, “I can imagine this fight being a wild brawl and dropping my opponent. Also on the ground, I have some slick submissions that are bonus-worthy.”
Having been successful in BAMMA, Rany is striving for more glory as plans on taking home the ACB title becoming the first Western European to do so.
“Of course!” he says with determination in his voice, “I’m coming into ACB as a world champion and the #1 ranked flyweight in Western Europe. After winning this fight, the title fight is right there”
It’s now been over a year since we’ve seen, “Prince” enter the cage. A decision voluntarily made by the German as he adjusted his game.
“It was mid last year when I had started to adjust my game. These changes take time and as the wished competition wasn’t there, I decided to take some time off fighting to prepare for a bigger challenge.”
Now having departed ways with BAMMA, the British promotion now has a new champion in Daniel Barez. Unfortunately for Rany, his reasons for leaving was the lack of competition has beaten everyone put in front of him with money being an issue that stepped in the way too. Despite any negativity derived from his departure, he does not rule out a return to the promotion where he was once Flyweight king.
“The competition in Europe just got very thin. With five fights in BAMMA, I somehow wasn’t very impressed with the opportunities left. Neither I got the fights, nor the purse that I needed to take my career further. After two title defenses, it felt like I was standing still which isn’t just BAMMA’s fault. Altogether, they are a great promotion and I wouldn’t exclude a return.”
When the UFC announced they would have the best flyweights from around the world enter the TUF house with a shot at the belt going to the winner. Many would have thought Rany Saadeh would have been up there. The season had champions from all over the world but no one from BAMMA, something strange considering the number of champions they signed in the past year from the promotion.
In an unfortunate circumstance for Saadeh, it was not his fault he wasn’t in the house as the UFC did come knocking but BAMMA just weren’t letting their champ go. Despite this situation, there is no bad blood anymore as Saadeh has moved on with things now.
“The UFC was definitely interested in putting me on the show and it is not true that BAMMA wasn’t asked. They were asked but didn’t want to be part of it. Without their permission, I wasn’t able to take part in the TUF. But I’m not mad at that anymore, I feel like it will make better opportunities possible.”
Having missed out on a possible UFC opportunity before, it isn’t on his mind anymore as he remains pleased with his life and is mainly looking to support his family in the future.
“I really don’t care, I’m set for the next few fights. All I want now is a decent living from fighting and provide for my family in the near future. ACB is not just giving me the chance to reach that goal but also giving me the challenges that I need. So far, I’m a very happy person”
Today’s MMA news round-up
Today has been a pretty busy day when it comes to MMA news. We’ve had it all today from new champions to commissioners being slapped to fighters being flagged by USADA. It’s been hectic to say the least so here are the highlights of today’s news.
1. Conor McGregor causes havoc at Bellator 187
Yes, that’s correct, Conor McGregor at Bellator. Following the win of his teammate and friend Charlie Ward at Bellator 187 the UFC Lightweight Champion entered the cage to celebrate with Ward, however, their celebrations did not go to plan. Referee Marc Goddard wasn’t pleased with this in the slightest and tried get McGregor out. This didn’t go down too well as McGregor confronted the referee who initially pushed him. See the video here:
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 10, 2017
This unfortunately was not the only incident as Conor appeared to slap an official who tried to get him off the top of the cage.
Credit to @BryanLaceyMMA for this one
— Bryan Lacey (@BryanLaceyMMA) November 10, 2017
2. Bellator to hold 8 Man Grand Prix for Vacant Heavyweight Championship
Earlier today it was confirmed by MMA Fighting that Bellator would crown a new Heavyweight champions following a report from MMA Junkie. There is no official dates yet, however, they do hope to start on January 20th and crown a new champion by the end of the year. There are some big names bidding to become the new champion, they are:
King Mo Lawal
3. Anderson Silva flagged by USADA for potential doping violation, out of UFC Shanghai Main Event
Former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva failed a USADA doping test and was pulled from the UFC Shanghai Main Event. The sample was collected from an out of competition test on October 26th. This is now his second time failing a doping test. Last time he was hit with a one year suspension and a heavy fine. No more information on the matter has been made available yet in relation to suspension.
4. UFC newcomer Grant Dawson also flagged by USADA for potential doping violation
USADA had a field day today in terms of fighters testing positive for doping. Grant Dawson, who has yet to even get a date for his debut was flagged for a sample collected on October 18th. The 23 year old was signed after impressing on Dana White’s contender series where he scored a second round submission on Adrian Diaz.
5. Martin Nguyen becomes ONE Championship’s first ever two division champion
Featherweight Champion Martin Nguyen stepped up to Lightweight to clash with title holder Eduard Folayang in effort of making history. Many ruled Nguyen out but he silenced all critics when viciously knocked out Folayang to take home another title. See the knockout here:
Credit to @Jolassanda for the video.
Martin Nguyen KOs Eduard Folayang
to become the first 2-division One champion pic.twitter.com/TueUy2Nycc
— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) November 10, 2017
6. All but one fighter make-weight for UFC Norfolk
Things were running smoothly today at the UFC Norfolk weigh ins until Matthew Lopez stepped up to the scales for his bout with Rafael Assuncao. He weighed in 2.5lbs over for his bout. The fight will go ahead, however, Lopez will lose 20% of his purse. Both Pettis and Poirier successfully made weight for their Main Event fight tomorrow night.
7. One new BAMMA champion while Lahore defends his belt in style
Despite some streaming troubles for the first two fights, BAMMA finally got one up in time for fans to see the final 3 fights. In the World Flyweight Title fight, Andy “Taz” Young fell lost his belt to Spaniard Daniel Barez via Majority Decision, After being docked a point in the opening round Barez came back strong to take home the World Title.
In the Main Event of the evening then, the anticipated match up between Alex Lahore and Richard Kiely went down. There was a lot of hype surrounding this one in the build up to the fight but it went as planned for Lahore. The champion pressured for a takedown in the first until finally succeeding, following some work on the mat it looked as if Kiely was about to gain some advantage on top. Only for Lahore to lock in a Kneebar and finish off the fight retaining his belt.
— BAMMA (@BAMMA) November 10, 2017
8. Cage Warriors 89 gets a shake up
The Cage Warriors Belgium card had an incredible addition today as they announced via newsletter that Karl Amoussou will defend his belt against Dominique Steele in the Main Event. The fight for the Vacant Heavyweight Championship was then demoted to co-main with a change in opponents for Mauro Cerilli. Dutchman Nills van Noord stepped up to face the Italian after Light Heavyweight Champion Karl Moore was forced off the card due to injury. This dampened his hopes of becoming the first Cage Warriors two division champion since Conor McGregor.
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