After just over a month of being away, Cage Warriors return for a show that features a range of talent from the South East on Friday 31st May 2019. Cage Warriors 105 takes place from Charter Hall in Colchester, England which is the home of one of the promotion’s academies where young, up and coming talent are given the platform to gain experience before stepping up to the big show. At lot of that talent is featured on this upcoming card and have their roots in Colchester including strawweight standout, Cory McKenna, who fights on the evening’s main card after growing up and beginning her MMA training in the town. She is one of the fastest rising young stars in Cage Warriors and will be looking to take the next step in her burgeoning martial arts journey on Friday night.
McKenna (3-1) last competed in Cardiff, Wales at Cage Warriors 104 around five weeks ago where she bounced back from the first loss of her professional career by submitting Fannie Redman in the second round. It was a fight that mostly showed off the grappling skills of McKenna as she spent a considerable amount of time during the first round in the standing back mount working for a rear naked choke. Redman eventually managed to shrug her off before McKenna landed some solid strikes on the feet until Redman took her down at the close of the first frame. When the second round began, McKenna came out and scored a takedown straight into half guard. From there she stepped over to take Redman’s back once again before sinking in the rear naked choke to earn her the first submission victory of her professional career. It was a performance that she was pleased with but she still believed that she made a lot of mistakes during the fight.
“If I’m being honest, that fight probably went better than I expected,” said McKenna. “With her being such a high level grappler, I was over the moon to get the submission. I got caught with a few things that I shouldn’t have during the fight and made plenty of easily fixable mistakes but that’s to be expected when fighting the top girls in Europe! I am a rather harsh critic of myself so I won’t give an extensive list of what I did wrong but the main thing is being switched on and focused from the outset. In the first ten seconds I got caught with a sweep which never should have happened.”
Up until that fight, McKenna hadn’t competed for around six months and given the lack of damage sustained in the bout, it made sense for her to jump straight away into the empty main card slot on the Colchester card in the hope of keeping her momentum rolling.
MMA has been her full time job since she finished her GCSE’s around three and a half years ago so she is very lucky to be able to make a living doing what she loves. McKenna started karate at the age of ten and progressed to learning many other of the martial arts disciplines by the time she turned twelve. She then thought that the logical next step was to transition into MMA so at the age of thirteen she moved to BKK where McKenna started training regularly before she began fighting at fifteen.
Rather than being exclusively a member of a team and only training at one gym, McKenna feels the need to move around to work with a number of different training partners at different camps. She is based in Wales so trains at Tillery Combat under Richard Shore but also travels to Liverpool to train alongside UFC flyweight, Molly McCann, and has traveled to Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California to work closely with Hall of Famer, Urijah Faber. Many fighters who travel around to work out of different gyms do so to add variety to their training as they feel as though looking at different approaches all of the time will help round out their own game. However, McKenna views it as something that it absolutely essential for her to improve and progress in her career.
“Travelling is great for everyone as it allows them to see different styles and viewpoints,” explained McKenna. “However, being a 115 lbs woman, my circumstance is a little different. I must travel in order to find other women and small men to get a realistic view on technical sparring aspects.”
The sport of MMA has arguably never been more popular in Wales where McKenna has been adopted as one of their own. Brett Johns, Jack Marshman and John Phillips have all made it to the UFC in recent years waving the welsh flag and recently signed UFC bantamweight, Jack Shore, has been receiving mainstream media attention in Wales recently which has bought the sport to a whole new audience. McKenna hopes to one day join those names on the UFC roster and believes that MMA in the country is going from strength to strength.
“Welsh MMA has grown massively recently due to so many talented fighters coming through and the massive support system that has been built around the sport,” stated McKenna. “It’s already way ahead of other places in the UK and I can only see it growing further!”
McKenna’s only defeat in MMA came at the hands of Micol DiSegni last September at Cage Warriors 97. She came up on the wrong side of a close split decision with some suggesting that she should have got the nod in that fight. McKenna believes that losing that fight set her back a little bit and she would have no problem with rematching her down the road to prove how much her game has developed since that contest although she isn’t insistent on trying to get that one back.
“Fighting her again would be 100% down to Cage Warriors,” said McKenna. “She is actually on Dana White’s Contender Series this summer which gives her the potential to get signed to the UFC. We are both progressing in our careers but if our paths were to cross again, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. I know that nine times out of ten I finish that fight!”
McKenna is the only notable female signed to Cage Warriors right now which means that she is getting a lot of shine and promotional push in the hope that she can follow in the footsteps of women such as Molly McCann. It can be tough to find her suitable opponents as there is a relatively smaller talent pool when it comes to the women and Cage Warriors have to ensure a certain talent level is met in order to be positioned on one of their shows which narrows options even further. At Charter Hall she is facing Italian, Giulia Chinello (3-2), who is on a three fight winning streak after beginning her career 0-2 and is coming off of a first round TKO victory last September. McKenna is looking forward to the quick turnaround and hopes to make another statement so she can start to make a case for the promotion to introduce a strawweight title in the not too distant future.
“Chinello is another tough opponent but I expect nothing less from the matchmakers at Cage Warriors,” said McKenna. “She’s had some good finishes but on May 31st, it’ll be me getting that stoppage in what I have no doubt will be a crowd pleasing tear up!”
Cage Warriors 105 can be viewed live on UFC Fight Pass from 7pm on Friday night and tickets can still be purchased here.