Leah McCourt turns tables with upkick, submits Janay Harding in wild Bellator 259 finish

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – When Leah McCourt stepped into the cage Friday night at Bellator 259, it was her first MMA competition in 15 months.

In case she escaped anyone’s mind during her time off, McCourt (5-1 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) pushed her way into the spotlight when she added another highlight to her reel against Janay Harding (6-5 MMA, 3-3 BMMA). McCourt finished the fight at 2:42 with a triangle choke, which followed a rocking upkick that turned the tide dramatically.

In Round 1, McCourt appeared to be the stronger fighter with better grappling. However, at the start of Round 2, Harding appeared to take over. After a few exchanges on the feet, Harding landed on top of McCourt in a scramble. McCourt, who looked tired, managed to shove Harding back up.

When Harding tried to pass guard and land a standing blow, she was met by McCourt’s foot. Stunned, Harding fell onto McCourt’s chest. Off her back, McCourt maneuvered her legs upward and around the head of Harding. From there, the squeeze was locked in and the tap came.

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With the victory, McCourt, who was three pounds heavy for the fight, has won five straight since a loss in her professional debut. As for Harding, she drops to 1-2 in her most recent three outings.

Bellator 259 took place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena. The main card aired on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.