Bellator Dublin: Leah McCourt relishing Dayana Silva fight

Leah McCourt’s bout against Sinead Kavanagh in Dublin in February was billed as the ‘biggest Irish fight of all time’.

It pitted two friends against each other in Belfast’s McCourt and Dublin’s Kavanagh, in front of a vociferous Irish crowd.

The event was a remarkable occasion, but for McCourt the pressure proved to be too intense as she was outpointed over a gruelling three rounds.

Following the defeat, which came just 16 days after she tested positive for Covid-19, she collapsed.

“I was sick for days, I couldn’t breathe for long stretches. I pushed my body to the extreme limits. I left everything I had in there,” McCourt, 30, tells BBC Sport.

“As much as I was excited for the fight, I definitely feel like there was a lot of expectation going into it.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Sinead because that was her night but I wasn’t 100% myself physically and it definitely took its toll.”

McCourt will face Brazil’s Dayana Silva in a featherweight bout at Bellator Dublin on Friday in her first fight since that loss to Kavanagh.

Unlike previously where she would train in Ireland, McCourt has opted to prepare for this bout at Next Gen gym in Liverpool alongside the UFC’s Molly McCann and coach Paul Rimmer.

McCann will be in McCourt’s corner on Friday night. McCourt says Rimmer has been a big influence and taught her to enjoy fighting and all the associated challenges.

“I sometimes feel like I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders, juggling fighting, promotion, Isabella [her daughter], my businesses, traveling, training – I do it all on my own,” she says.

“He [Rimmer] said I needed to enjoy it, enjoy training, enjoy sparring, otherwise what’s the point of doing it?

“Instead of worrying so much about the outcome, enjoy the process. I think it’s helped me perform a lot better in this camp.

“This fight I feel I am actually looking forward to going in there and fighting and I’ve never really had that feeling before.

“I’ve always just wanted to get it over and done with. I want the weigh-in done so I can get to fight and get it done. I’d always train to try and get a first-round finish. But, [this time], I want to be in there to the end if I have to.”

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