For Cory McKenna, having her first fight back since November 2020 take place in London is everything.
“I specifically asked for this card and pushed for this card; my friends, my family and everyone is going to be here, and I haven’t seen them in years, as well as, obviously, the home crowd and everything. It’s going to be wild,” McKenna said. “It was very big for me to get on this event.”
The Welsh native is making her sophomore appearance on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs Aspinall. Her debut took place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, so this time around, things are taking place on a larger scale, which is something that McKenna is embracing.
“I feel like this is my first time experiencing a full UFC event,” McKenna said. “It’s obviously a larger scale here. I haven’t had a crowd for like three years, so the atmosphere is going to be amazing.”
McKenna faced strawweight Kay Hansen in her debut, and came out victorious, defeating Hansen by unanimous decision. McKenna holds a 6-1 record, earning two wins by knockout and one by submission. She is riding into Saturday night on a four-fight win streak.
“I don’t want it to be a decision, I don’t want to be cutting it close,” McKenna said. “I’m going to be going out there and looking to put a finish on and making sure that I’m not leaving it in the judges’ hands now that we have this full UFC experience.”
The 22-year-old is the third youngest fighter on the UFC roster and is the youngest woman on the roster. The Dana White’s Contender Series alum feels that she didn’t showcase all her skills in her last performance against Hansen.
She doesn’t feel that she has a specific strength and is excited to show off her ability to move wherever the fight goes against her opponent, Elise Reed.
“I think people will probably be shocked going in there at how well-rounded I am, so I don’t think I have to neutralize her strengths per se, as opposed to making sure that I’m better all-around and prepared wherever the fight goes,” McKenna said.
Reed is also making her second appearance inside the Octagon after falling to Sijara Eubanks last July.
“I think it’s going to be a great fight, as to be expected,” McKenna said. “She’s a high-level opponent, once again, to be expected. From what I’ve seen, she’s more of a striker, so it’s a stereotypical striker vs grappler matchup. She’s no slouch on the ground and I’m sure she’s been working on all aspects of her game, so I’m just excited to see what happens when we get out there.”
McKenna always says that because she doesn’t have a specific strength, her strengths are her opponent’s weaknesses. “Poppins” feels confident in the work that she has put in with her team at Team Alpha Male and is ready to put on a performance and earn a finish victory.
“If I go in there and feel like I have an advantage somewhere, I’m going to take it there,” McKenna said. “I’m not going to try and beat her at her own game, but if I go out there and I’m winning the striking exchanges, I’ll continue to do that. If I feel like I can get my hands on her and take her down and get the win there, I’ll do that.”
No matter how many times she tries to visualize what the walk out will feel like on Saturday night, she simply can’t put it into words. She has a little bit of experience being under the lights from her time at Cage Warriors, but nothing compares to being on the highest stage, especially in London.
“It’s definitely going to be an exciting feeling,” McKenna said. “I always get excited and pumped up to get in there, so I know it’s going to be wild. I can’t even put into words how it’s going to feel.”