“Over the moon” is how strawweight Cory McKenna put the feeling of winning a UFC contract. Tuesday night on Dana White’s Contender Series, McKenna pulled off a close win over LFA champ Vanessa Demopoulos, a fight that turned into a chess match on the ground.
Demopoulos frequently threatened off her back. 21-year old McKenna (5-1) maintained top position, survived a couple of scares, and came away with the win.
UFC President Dana White voiced some concerns about signing such a young fighter. McKenna just turned 21. “It’s not about age in this sport, it’s experience,” McKenna responded post-fight, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press. “I’ve been fighting MMA since I was 15, when I turned amateur. I’ve been in there with the top girls in Europe, I’ve been fighting for many years. I’m confident I can fight anyone.”
Of course, it’s for her coaches, including Team Alpha Male’s Urijah Faber, to determine who she does take on. But McKenna hopes it’s soon. “As soon as they’ll let me in there, I’ll get in there. I don’t care where it is, I don’t care who it is. I just want to get going.”
McKenna also revealed an interesting bet she’s made with fellow fighter Arnold Allen. “I’ve actually got two wins tonight. I made a bet five years ago with Arnold Allen as to who gets signed the youngest [by the UFC]. I’ve won by, I think, three months,” she said.
Allen, of course, is already in the big show. And was actually championing McKenna ahead of the fight, calling for her to be signed. It’s something she’s always wanted, young or not.
“I’ve always had the goal [of making the UFC early]. I’m actually a little bit behind schedule, I haven’t fought for 18 months. But I’m happy to have finally got it done,” she said.
You might say fighting is in McKenna’s blood. Her mother, Wendy, was also a fighter, and competed for U.K. promotion Cage Warriors. Although the pair actually started competing around the same time.
“First thing I did when I got out was I phoned my parents,” McKenna told Cageside Press on Tuesday. “They’re obviously very happy. Kept them on the edge of their seat as well. This is the first fight my dad hasn’t been able to come to. My mum comes to most of them, there was a couple she was fighting the same night somewhere else. This is the first time I’ve fought without my family there in the crowd.”
There won’t be a mother-daughter duo in the UFC, however. “Unfortunately my mum’s not able to train anymore. She co-mained Cage Warriors, she did some very impressive things with her career, and I think she’s happy to just sit back and support me and watch me achieve my goals.”