Bellator Dublin lost its main event less than three weeks out when James Gallagher pulled out with an injury, but his SBG teammate Leah McCourt replaced him as the headlining attraction and won for the Irish crowd.
It wasn’t easy, though.
McCourt, a decorated amateur MMA fighter who has had success so far as a professional featherweight, engaged in a hard-fought grappling battle with Judith Ruis for three rounds at Dublin’s 3Arena on Saturday.
McCourt took Ruis to the ground several times in the opening round, but her opponent came close to the finish after the third takedown, going for an armbar that forced McCourt to work hard to escape.
McCourt took Ruis’ back in the second stanza, but Ruis’ escaped and reverted position to mount and land punches and elbows. McCourt came back aggressive in the final round, taking her rival to the round and landing punches before getting the mount.
In the end, all three judges scored the bout in McCourt’s favor (29-28 x2, 30-27), who got very emotional after winning for the first time with her daughter in attendance.
Ward was successful in his attempt to get Kurtz on his back in the opening round, but Ward came back more aggressive in the second, landing good punches while taking his opponent to the ground.
Kurtz opened the final round with leg kicks, but Ward responded with a big left hand. Kurtz went for a flying knee, but Ward once again clinched and put him down, starting to unload his left hand over and over again, opening a cut in Kurtz’s forehead and punishing the Missouri native before the referee mercifully stopped the bout with 36 seconds left in the clock.
Ward improved to 5-1 since leaving the UFC in 2017, bouncing from a decision loss to Pietro Penini at November’s Bellator London. Kurtz, who was victorious in his first appearances in the Bellator cage in 2015, sees his two-fight winning streak snapped and his overall record drop to 10-8.
Chalmers opened the first round with a pair of left kicks to the body, but Clem timed a flying knee perfectly to get his opponent to the ground. Clem continued to show superior wrestling and grappling in the following round, securing the mount and landing punches and elbows for four minutes.
“The Joker” needed a finish in the third and came out aggressive with a good knee, but Clem once again took him to the ground, improved to side control and then mounted. Clem went for an arm-triangle choke with seconds left, but the victory came via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).
Clem (4-1) now rides a three-fight winning streak after his successful Bellator debut, while Chalmers drops to 2-2 in the promotion.