Bellator has a knack for finding young stars in the sport, both inside and outside of the cage. Valerie Loureda may take center stage on that front at Bellator 259, but Janay Harding, at 26 years old, is a star in the making. She steps into the cage with another bright young fighter for Bellator, one she was set to meet before, Europe’s Leah McCourt.
“We knew it was on the horizon,” Harding told Cageside Press recently. “We knew it was the name to expect next. Didn’t know if it was going to happen, we’ve had a few missteps. It’s great I know all about this opponent, it’s great she’s going to be super hungry,” Harding continued. “A match she has wanted for a really long time as well. These are all really cool things, a match for the fans.”
Harding and McCourt will be sharing a card that is headlined by a very important fight in their division, Cris Cyborg Vs. Leslie Smith II. With the rankings in Bellator, Harding at #6, McCourt at #7, Harding believes the picture is much more clear with the ranking system. Although these two have been set to face off before, and their names have coincided for a year plus, it is all respect between the two contenders, as it always has been.
“No matter what she did on her end, I’ll always be the same person,” Harding stated. “It’s just not me, I don’t need that to be a fighter. I am a fighter, this is what I was born to do. It is cool that we can have this rivalry, but it’s a respectful rivalry, it makes us hungrier, motivated, knowing we are two legitimate contenders who want to fight each other,” Harding continued. “Especially her being a mum, she’s representing the UK (United Kingdom) and being a mum, i’m representing Australia and the younger generation.”
Catch the full interview above, where Harding shares her life outside the cage, her prediction for Cyborg Vs. Smith II and more! You can also check out her Bellator 259 media day appearance below.