Leah McCourt ‘frustrated’ at being ignored for Cris Cyborg fight


Leah McCourt wants her title shot.

A matchup between McCourt and featherweight champion Cris Cyborg appeared to be all but guaranteed this past October when McCourt and Cyborg both made short work of their respective opponents, Sara McMann and Cat Zingano, at Bellator 300. The two even faced off inside the cage in anticipation of a future fight.

With Bellator acquired by the PFL and Cyborg angling for a fight with Kayla Harrison (which won’t be happening anytime soon with Harrison jumping to the UFC), it would appear Cyborg is still in need of a dance partner. But McCourt has yet to hear if she’ll be asked to take that spot.

“I’m just a bit frustrated, I’m a bit pissed off, because I’ve felt since this acquisition has happened, I’ve just been dismissed publicly again and again as the No. 1 contender,” McCourt said on The MMA Hour. “I’ve fought everybody in Bellator, I’ve fought some of the best girls in the world. If you look at the girls I’ve fought, I deserve to be the No. 1 contender and to be fighting for the world title next, and I just haven’t had that kind of recognition, and it’s just been constantly taken away.

“Kayla and Cyborg, Larissa [Pacheco] and Cyborg – it’s never been the Bellator No. 1 contender, so that’s been frustrating. Look what’s happened now. Kayla’s went to the UFC, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

PFL CEO Peter Murray told the media Wednesday that the league is shuttering its women’s featherweight division in favor of a women’s flyweight tournament next year, which seemingly clears the path for two-time PFL 145-pound champion Larissa Pacheco to become part of the Bellator roster – and be a prime option to fight Cyborg.

McCourt is hoping for some indication from officials that she is ahead of Pacheco in the pecking order.

“You would think so, but…I’m still in the dark,” McCourt said. “You have to ask them.”

For now, McCourt is back in training, focused on staying in shape for the next opportunity that comes. She’s even more focused on helping to support teammate Ryan Curtis. Curtis recently suffered a devastating injury in training that severely damaged his neck and spine, and McCourt has been doing everything in her power to spread the word and raise funds for her friend and his family (donate to Curtis’ GoFundMe page here).

Whether it’s Cyborg or someone else, McCourt is just ready to get back in the cage and take care of business.

“Before this happened, I’d been given kind of an idea and a rough kind of opponent, but I just needed to get back in to prepare for that because I know that’s what Ryan would want,” McCourt said. “He’s lying in a hospital bed, and we’re so close, my success is his success, everyone knows it’s what he’d want me to be doing. So I’m just hoping to get the right fight and have a fight soon.”


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