MIAMI – Sinead Kavanagh is days away from the final step, an attempt to live out her dream of becoming the first female mixed martial arts champion from Ireland in a major promotion.
In order to do so, however, Kavanagh (7-4 MMA, 4-4 BMMA) need to defeat all-time great and current women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (24-2 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) in the main event of Bellator 271 on Friday.
“Of course she’s a great fighter, a legend,” Kavanagh told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “But I have to put that aside. I need to make a name for myself. I’m ready to do that and put this on the line. No matter who’s in my way, I’m going to leave my soul in that cage fight night. Win, lose, or draw, I’ll know I did my best.”
In the lead-up to this fight, Kavanagh spoke to a fellow countryperson and MMA icon Conor McGregor. The former Irish UFC double champion provided Kavanagh with advice and encouragement.
“He did (reach out),” Kavanagh said. “I was talking to him. He wants me to do well of course. He wants me to shine well. I’m his friend, you know? He wants me to do an (Jose) Aldo job on her. Thirteen seconds is the lucky number.”
Of course, Kavanagh is referring to McGregor’s 13-second title-clinching knockout at UFC 194 in which the Irishman captured the promotion’s featherweight strap.
Despite the spotlight of a Bellator main event and the resume of her opponent, Kavanagh feels in her comfort zone entering Friday’s fight. Though she’s never challenged for major promotional gold before, her perception of this fight week has strayed far from the norm.
“I’m treating it as any other fight,” Kavanagh said. “I’m not letting the occasion get above me or anything like that. I’m cool here. I’m calm. I’m ready for this. That’s the way I feel.”
Bellator 271 takes place Friday at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. The main card airs on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.