LONDON – Cory McKenna is one of the youngest fighters on the UFC roster, but she isn’t in a hurry to reach her goals.
McKenna (6-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), 22, will return after an over year-long layoff when she faces Elise Reed (4-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) Saturday at UFC Fight Night 204 at The 02. The card streams on ESPN+.
The likes of Muhammad Mokaev and her Team Alpha Male training partner Maycee Barber have been pretty vocal in their desire to become the youngest champion in UFC history, but McKenna isn’t about to set the same kind of goals.
“One thing I’ve kind of learned with this sport, there’s too much unpredictability and too many variables going into it,” McKenna told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at Wednesday’s UFC London media day. “I’ve had a lot of injuries, I’ve had a lot of long layoffs too, really, if you look at it. I think this is the second time I’ve had nearly an 18-month layoff in my career, which given I’m so young, that’s quite a lot.
“So one thing I’ve kind of realized, I can’t set necessarily time dates like that because all I’m going to do is disappoint myself. For me, it’s a case of, I know that will come. When it comes, I don’t mind. I know that I’m working hard and I’m going to do my best to get there as soon as possible, but I’m not putting stress on how fast I get there or anything. I’m going to trust the process and take things one fight at a time.”
Since edging out Kay Hansen in her UFC debut in November 2020, a slew of injuries and health issues have sidelined McKenna. The Welsh fighter is at an age disadvantage with her opponent Reed being seven years her senior, but McKenna says she’s logged in plenty of cage time that will make up for it.
“I never really valued the age thing too much,” McKenna said. “I was 15, fighting 30-year old women. If anything, I spent my whole time growing up fighting that whole, ‘kid vs. woman’ kind of thing. For me, the age never really played a part because I have so much experience despite my age.”
She continued, “I’m sure there’s probably an element of underestimating me. I’m young, I’m not necessarily the most biggest, scariest looking person. For me, that only plays into my favor. They’re going in there with false confidence or whatever, and I can just prove that wrong. So it doesn’t make a difference to me.”
Watch the video of McKenna’s complete pre-fight media availability above.
Photos: UFC Fight Night 204 media day in London
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