Exclusive: UFC star, Cory McKenna, ready to make a statement

Ahead of her UFC return on Saturday night, Cory McKenna, spoke to SPORF about her monstrous fight against Cheyanne Vlismas.

After discovering karate at just nine years of age, the Welsh phenom instantly caught the competitive bug. McKenna’s passion engulfed her being, with her new-found sporting prowess expressing itself through jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and boxing.

Upon realising that she enjoyed every aspect of the fight game, McKenna embarked on her MMA journey, which has taken her all the way to the world’s premier promotion, and her ascent doesn’t look like halting anytime soon.

Cory McKenna dazzled en route to the UFC

After amassing a perfect 6-0 record in the amateurs, McKenna, turned professional in 2018. By utilising her impressive grappling credentials, she quickly made it to Cage Warriors, where she ultimately sustained her first defeat. But rather than let the loss define her, she disposed of her ‘lucky towel’, which she had previously placed great faith in, and decided to let her self-belief and determination act as the driving force of her progression.

In a testament to her resilience, she grafted her way to a spot in Dana White’s Contender Series and produced a sublime performance. Her victory secured her a place in the company, that she’d dreamed of being in since she was a teenager. And the born-fighter didn’t take long to prove the President’s decision right. In an unbelievable moment, the up-and-comer caught the headlines with a sensational submission. After becoming the first Welsh woman to compete in the organisation, she made history again when she ended her fight with Miranda Granger via Von Flue choke.

The victory proved McKenna’s ability to compete as a serious player on the world stage and bagged her a massive opportunity in the fight capital of the world this weekend.

Read: Manuel Charr vs Lucas Browne: UK start time, how to watch, full card (sporf.com)

Cory McKenna reveals all ahead of UFC return

With her camp complete, the 23-year-old is ready to make an impact at the Apex Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada. Safe in the knowledge that she works as hard as anyone, McKenna feels no fear going into her collision with Vlismas.

The rising star claimed: “She’s a very fundamental striker, I’m expecting her to come in nice and solid. But I’m a strong grappler, so on paper, it’s pretty straightforward. I also have a lot of success with my striking that I perhaps haven’t implemented in fights. So it would be cool to get the opportunity to do that.

“I’m expecting it to be an interesting fight. She strives to make all her fights entertaining, so I’m sure it’ll be a crowd-pleaser either way.”

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And while the youngster is confident in securing the victory, she hasn’t let her eyes wander to UFC 286 at the O2 Arena on March 18.

McKenna stressed: “The London crowd is crazy, the support is insane, and it’s back home more or less for me. But I’m focusing on this fight. I’ve got to see how my body feels and make sure I’m nice and healthy. I made a vow to myself to not go into fights injured anymore. So I’m just focusing on what’s in front of me for now.”

Mindset is key for the strawweight contender, who never looks past an opponent. However, when she’s not participating, McKenna, spends a great deal of time analysing her division, and has a great deal of respect for the champion, Zhang Weili.

The martial arts star admitted: “I’m very self-aware. I’m nowhere near her yet. But she’s a great champion, so high-level, and I feel like she speaks for herself.”

However, while McKenna hasn’t reached her full potential as of yet, she knows the heights her talent will one day allow her to reach. And consequently, the thought of becoming her country’s first-ever UFC title holder, has crossed her mind on more than one occasion.

The prospect confessed: “That would be amazing. I’m the first Welsh woman in there. So it would be pretty cool to keep adding to the list of firsts.”

Featured Image Credit: Cory McKenna