Friendship had to be put to the side in the Bellator 275 co-main event on Friday, as women’s featherweights Leah McCourt and Sinead Kavanagh threw down.
Kavanagh was looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Cris Cyborg, in the Irish fighter’s first shot at gold. McCourt, meanwhile, entered on a seven-fight win streak— and win number eight could very well land her in the title conversation.
In the end, Kavanagh was able to rebound — but she had to overcome an apparent knee injury, with her leg buckling very early in the first round of the Bellator 275 co-main event.
In the opening minute, with Kavanagh’s injury looming large, McCourt was able to land a key takedown with a trip, getting the fight right where she wanted it. McCourt passed from half guard into side control, as Kavanagh tried to buck her off. McCourt then briefly took full mount, before ending up back in half guard. Kavanagh would transition to the top, however, and from there, came very, very close to finishing with a Kimura.
As time ticked away, it felt like McCourt spent most of the first round stuck in that Kimura, somehow refusing to tap and using the cage to reposition and fend off the submission. Eventually, she would free her arm, more through sheer will than technique, and Kavanagh moved back to her feet. The message had been sent, however: Kavanagh could hold her own on the ground.
Round two had Leah McCourt again looking for the takedown early. Kavanagh did an admirable job staying upright, and reversed position against the cage. Kavanagh took a couple of solid swings during this grappling exchange, before McCourt put her in a guillotine. That didn’t last long, and while McCourt then landed a takedown, when they rolled, it was Kavanagh landing on top — though they were quickly back to their feet. The next time they went down, it was McCourt looking for a Kimura, though she used it more to improve position — or at least try to.
The third round likely had McCourt in need of a finish, thanks to Kavanagh’s control time through the opening two rounds. Kavanagh’s leg appeared to be more seriosuly compromised than first thought, however. In a clinch, she drove McCourt into the fence; they’d go down, and this time it was McCourt on top. McCourt would get in some significant ground n’ pound, getting to mount before Kavanagh spun around, back to relative safety. She could not get McCourt off of her, however. As a last ditch effort, McCourt went after Kavanagh’s injured leg — but Kavanagh would get on top in a scramble, and finish out the round throwing a few more bombs.
It would be Sinead Kavanagh walking — or more accurately limping — away with the win Friday. How long she’ll be out, and how serious the damage to her leg is, will be a question moving forward.
Official Result: Sinead Kavanagh def. Leah McCourt by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)