Bellator return to Israel for the fourth time on Thursday with an event that isn’t heavy on star power but contains some interesting match ups. Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv plays host to Bellator 234 which will be shown via tape delay on Friday night due to certain broadcasting restrictions. On the evening’s preliminary card, Sinead Kavanagh will travel into enemy territory to take on recent featherweight title challenger and local favourite, Olga Rubin.
Kavanagh (5-4) last competed back in July when she lost a majority decision to MMA veteran, Leslie Smith, in the American’s Bellator return. It was a stand-up affair which mostly saw Smith push forwards trying to land big shots while Kavanagh used her movement well to strike effectively and reset different angles. Both fighters had their spells of success but when the scorecards were read out, many suggested that the lady from Ireland should have been given the nod. This is a sentiment that Kavanagh echos and she made it clear she was very pleased with her own display of skills.
“It was one of my best performances to date,” stated Kavanagh. “I schooled that b-tch in the fight game. She thought she was going to white-wash me so wouldn’t have expected me to show the striking game that I did. I Floyd Mayweather’d her ass on the back foot. Aggression is when you move forwards and land shots but she threw nothing and walked onto my punches. In fairness, she can take a good shot because she was eating them for 15 minutes. The scorecards were an absolute joke and the fact that she was previously a UFC fighter won her that fight – not her talent.”
Going into that bout, Kavanagh missed weight as she came in over the featherweight limit. The SBG Ireland fighter said this was because she flew over sick so couldn’t train for a week. Kavanagh acknowledged this was an excuse and she should have been on it but she was holding a lot of water which prevented her from sweating. There was a lot of animosity going into the fight and some of it was due to this situation.
“My issues with Leslie weren’t settled after the bout and I didn’t even see her in the back,” explained Kavanagh. “I’ve had respect for all of my previous opponents except for her. I slapped her hand at the weigh-ins because she’s a fake, greedy b-tch. She took 35% of my purse for my weight miss and told me I didn’t even try to hit the limit on the scales. Leslie even went on to say that we were playing by her rules because of that, so I needed to do what she said. The following day, she made me weigh in again so she could take even more of my money if I was over. I heard she is on big money but she was still after my pennies.”
When Kavanagh was just eight years old, she started training stand-up disciplines including karate, boxing and kickboxing. She continued in these for many years and got the itch to see how far she could go in the martial arts game. At the time when Conor McGregor was starting to boom on the international stage, Kavanagh thought she’d see what this MMA thing was all about and now wishes she had made that transition sooner. She currently trains alongside McGregor all of these years later and she has worked with him during this camp.
After a successful amateur run, Kavanagh debuted in BAMMA during 2015 and moved to 3-0 within a year to begin her professional career. She was rewarded by being signed to Bellator before their show in Dublin towards the end of 2016 and has been with the promotion ever since. Her record is 2-4 in Bellator but if you look into the details of those fights, things could have turned out very differently.
“Bellator are a great organisation to work for,” discussed Kavanagh. “They see my potential as a fighter and know that I’m worthy of title shot real soon. Bellator know and everyone who watched my last fight know that my hand should have been raised. My career in the promotion has been unlucky due to bad judging and unfortunate cuts. It’s been a rocky road but I bring a good fight every time and I always get the crowd going.”
It is a really exciting time in the Bellator women’s featherweight division due to the promotion signing some major names. With the recent additions of Cris Cyborg and Cat Zingano, it can’t really be argued that Bellator is the home of the deepest 145lbs female division around. Kavanagh loves the fact that those two names have joined the Bellator roster as they have been in the fight game for some time. She can’t wait to mix it up with the pair if given the chance so she can test herself against the best.
Kavanagh’s upcoming opponent, Olga Rubin (6-1), is looking to get straight back into the win column after her disappointing performance against current champion, Julia Budd. Rubin has predicted a crowd-pleasing fight which she doubts will hear the final horn and has eyed a match-up with Kavanagh since the Israeli signed with Bellator. Kavanagh has finished three of her five professional wins due to strikes, which reinforces her nickname of ‘KO,’ and agrees with Rubin’s assessment of how the fight may go.
“Olga is a well-rounded fighter whose just fought for the title which says it all really,” continued Kavanagh. “I’m expecting a full on, explosive battle. Fans know that’s what I bring every time I set foot inside the cage.”
Bellator 234 prelims can be streamed on the Bellator Mobile App from 11pm GMT for fans in the UK and Ireland on Friday night. Viewers in the US can watch at 6pmET/5c.