Becoming the first Welsh female to sign with the UFC after her highly impressive showing on Dana White’s Contender Series, the 21 year old Cory McKenna represents the new age of young Welsh prospects ready to take the worlds premier promotion by storm.
Career so far
Known as ‘The Hobbit’, the 5′ 3” strawweight took up various fighting disciplines at a young age, before taking up MMA at age 13. Her first amateur fight followed shortly after at age 15 and over a three year period from 2014-2017 the young Welsh athlete went 7-0, claiming titles in both the 115 and 125 lbs divisions. Another notable scalp on her amateur record was a 2016 finish of Aleksandra Rola, who only five months prior had finished runner up in the 2016 IMMAF World Championships.
Turning over in early 2018, aged 18, McKenna signed with Cage Warriors and won her first two bouts with the promotion, a retirement win over Maria Vittoria Colonna and a decision win against Eva Dourthe. Then came an early setback as she was taken the distance by the vastly more experienced Micol di Segni, losing a close split decision to the Italian who has gone on to compete for both Brave CF and on The Contender Series.
A six month absence was ended with two wins in back to back Cage Warriors events, a second round rear naked choke over Fannie Redman and a first round TKO of the unheralded Giulia Chinello. McKenna was then out of the cage for 15 over months due to a concoction of opponents missing weight and the outbreak of Covid-19.
Finally returning in august, she showed all aspects of her game in beating the bookies favourite Vanessa Demopoulos on Dana White’s Contender Series, impressing enough to earn a deal with the promotion despite Dana White’s reservations about her age and lack of experience.
Splitting her training between BKK in the UK under the tutelage of British MMA great Jack Mason and Team Alpha Male in the States with head trainer Urijah Faber, Mckenna has a strong all round game.
Comfortable if not spectacular on the feet, McKenna does her best work on the ground, where she possesses a strong top game with both the threat of submissions and devastating ground and pound. This is complemented by her wrestling which has greatly improved since she began training in Sacramento.
One of the drawbacks to her game is plain and simple, her lack of top level experience. While she’s training with the best everyday at Team Alpha Male, her level of competition thus far hasn’t been the strongest and it is bound to be a huge step up when she starts to face the best the 115 lbs division has to offer.
McKenna is slated to make her debut against fellow young prospect Kay Hansen (7-3), herself only 21 years of age. Hansen made her UFC debut back in June, submitting former Invicta Atomweight champion Jinh Yu Frey in the third round of a back and forth affair, earning a performance of the night bonus in the process.
Prior to that Hansen had performed admirably during her run with Invicta, competing in both the strawweight and flyweight divisions and picking up bonuses on more than one occasion.
The American has six finishes among her seven wins (two KO’s and four submissions) and has only been stopped once, in addition to this she has a strong wrestling base, ever improving hands and is a serious submission threat on the ground.
Both of these girls will likely break into the top 15 eventually, and we could see a rematch of this bout down the line for much higher stakes when both have learnt and improved.