Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh is staying single-minded and focused ahead of the biggest fight of her MMA career.
Kavanagh will challenge Brazil’s Cris Cyborg for the women’s featherweight title in the main event of Bellator 271, which takes place Friday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
It’s the first time Kavanagh has headlined a Bellator event, and her first crack at a major world title, but she says her pride in representing her nation surpasses any pre-fight stresses that may present themselves during fight week in Florida.
“It’s amazing (to be representing Irish MMA),” she said during a media day session this week.
“It’s amazing where I’ve come from and where I’m at now.
“I’m just proud of myself for being here and sticking at it. That alone has given me strength.”
Dublin’s Kavanagh will follow in the footsteps of her SBG Ireland teammate Peter Queally, who headlined Bellator 270 as he challenged for the vacant lightweight title.
Queally suffered his first career stoppage at the hands of Patricky Pitbull as his title tilt fell agonisingly short in Dublin.
It means that Kavanagh, already a history-maker as the first Irish woman to compete in a major MMA title bout, has the chance to write her name into the Irish MMA history books by becoming the nation’s first Bellator champion, and the first female champion in Irish MMA history.
That goal is Kavanagh’s singular focus ahead of fight night, despite a few shenanigans coming from her opponent’s camp during fight week.
“She is over here playing mind games. You wont even believe what they’re up to,” she explained.
“They’re tagging me in that suplex (video). She has these ‘Squid Game’ cards with her face on them and she’s leaving them everywhere I go.
“She’s leaving them everywhere I go. She’s leaving them in my corner, leaving them on my floor.
“She’s trying to play her mind games. She’s trying to break me, but she can’t.”
Kavanagh brings a two-fight win streak into Friday night’s fight with Cyborg, and says she’s fully prepared for the biggest fight of her career.
“I was next in line and she was calling out other people,” she said.
“When I got the call, I was emotional because it’s well overdue. I should be here.
“It was a rollercoaster for me. It’s finally happened, it’s finally here and I’m ready to get going.”
And the Dubliner revealed one of her biggest keys to victory when she faces off with the fearsome Brazilian world champion on Friday night.
“She gets too much (respect) in the cage,” she stated.
“The cage is not to be giving respect, the cage is to fight, and the cage is to be leaving my soul in there and that’s exactly what I’m going to do Friday night.
“I can’t wait to hit her.”
Photo credit: Bellator MMA/Lucas Noonan