Leah McCourt is back in the win column, back on form and potentially one win away from a shot at the Bellator women’s featherweight title.

Northern Ireland’s McCourt saw her six-fight win streak snapped in Dublin in February 2022 when she lost a decision to former title challenger Sinead Kavanagh, but rebounded with a strong performance to defeat Dayana Silva on the scorecards at the 3Arena seven months later.

Now “The Curse” has headed across the pond to Temecula, California, where she’ll take on former UFC women’s bantamweight title challenger and No. 1-ranked contender Cat Zingano in the co-main event of Bellator 293 on March 31.

With the carrot of a potential title shot awaiting the winner, it’s the biggest opportunity of McCourt’s career, and the 30-year-old said she’s ready to take it with both hands.

“This was the most excited I’ve been for a matchup,” she said during media day ahead of fight night in California.

“I’ve always been a big fan of hers, and I think fighting her has brought out the best version of me. I know a win is going to get me a title shot, so massive opportunities come from that. I never take these opportunities for granted. I’ve done everything I can, and I’m ready for Friday night.

“It’s amazing. I was watching Cat before I was even fighting MMA. It’s quite unbelievable sometimes, but at the end of the day, it’s just another opponent. I’ve got to go in there and get the job done.”

The fight will see McCourt compete for Bellator on US soil for only the second time in her career, but she’s hopeful that she’ll get some support from the crowd at the Pechanga Resort and Casino when she steps into the cage on fight night.

I hope there’s some Irish in the crowd,” she smiled.

“I’m really proud. We’ve always had massive shows in Dublin. It’s nice to represent Belfast, where I grew up, on the other side of the ocean. I love representing Ireland, there’s so many great Irish fighters, so it’s nice to be a part of that as well.”

With her strong wrestling base and top-level experience, Zingano will pose the biggest test of McCourt’s career to date, and McCourt said she’s been working her wrestling and ground game extensively for the battle ahead.

“I was working with some of the GB wrestlers for this matchup,” she explained.

“I know Cat is a very strong wrestler, so I think one of my strongest points was training my takedown defense for this camp. There was a lot of heavy wrestling in camp.

“We have our gameplan and our strategy, but I’m comfortable everywhere. Grappling’s my ideal if it goes to that. I feel like it could be a second-round stoppage.

“I don’t think I’ve ever fought a grappler. I always think one of my strongest attributes is my takedown defense. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in the cage. I’ve been put in a lot of bad positions this training camp, so it’ll be a nice test. I’m looking forward to experiencing it Friday.”

McCourt, who said skill, rather than strength, would be the deciding factor on fight night, said she’s used to the pressure of fighting high up on cards, but revealed she’d love nothing more than to defeat Zingano, then move on to challenge for the featherweight title on home soil.

“I keep saying Belfast. I want to fight for the title in Belfast, where I’m from,” she said.

“I think I deserve that. When I get through this fight, I’d like to fight for the title in Belfast.”