With Bellator rankings behind her and a women’s featherweight division that offers plenty of opportunities, Janay Harding is ready to make a statement this Friday at Bellator 259. Harding, who picked up a unanimous victory over Jessy Miele at Bellator 251 in November of last year, now returns to face an opponent she’s been matched up with multiple times over the past year, Leah McCourt.
After struggling early on as she was bouncing from gym to gym, Harding has found her home in Kings Academy in Australia and during a recent interview with the On The Mic podcast, she spoke about finding home and comfort with her team.
“It’s a scary thing that I now have a solid base. Even the wins I’ve had in Bellator before my last one, I was winning without a camp and with corners that weren’t even with me in the camp and constant traveling between three different countries from Australia to Thailand to the UK and back again, and still coming out on top. Now that I have a solid base and a consistent routine and a consistent team and coaching around me, it’s invaluable to see how much progression I’ve made and how much of a difference it’s made on the abilities I already have.”
With the rankings in place, Harding who sits at sixth in the featherweight division, says it brings an opportunity for a fighter like her to brand herself and truly establish her place in the division.
“It just gives us better direction, it gives us a more clear contender, it gives us understand that we’re not just fighting each other to fight each other and hopefully get called up for a title shot every now and again. Now it’s like a proper pathway and proper direction. That’s just a much more structured way of doing it, it gives more integrity to the division, and it gives each individual a platform as well. For me, I’m stoked with where I’m at, it gives more people the vision of my name, and for me myself, knowing I’m on the right path.”
In the main event of Bellator 259, champion Cris Cyborg will be defending her title in a rematch against Leslie Smith, five years after their first meeting, but with Harding on the undercard, she without a doubt will have her eyes on the marquee fight of the night.
“I’m not too bothered about where this fight puts me after this win, I don’t really mind if I stay at six. If that’s the case, it just solidifies my spot there. It does obviously bring me another win and a win streak of some sort. I am ready for that possibility that maybe even after this fight I get a title fight, or maybe after the next one, that’s how it may end up being. For that reason I just want to get as many great performances and great wins out of my way before then and this is [vs Leah McCourt] is a great way to show that. Just showing people that I’m a force to be reckoned with and I’m not just another name in the Top-10, I am the name in the Top-10 that you guys should be watching out for.”
Throughout her young career, Janay Harding has spent time competing both inside the boxing ring and MMA cages, but now that she has a spot and a path in Bellator’s featherweight division, she says her focus is solely on martial arts.
“I definitely have decided that I’m putting boxing down until I’ve achieved pretty much everything I want to achieve in MMA, unless for whatever reason all of MMA shuts down which is very unlikely. MMA is definitely my 100% focus and I’ve put boxing aside completely.”
She’s in the division, she’s got the promotion, and now Janay Harding is ready to show everyone that she belongs at the top of Bellator’s featherweight division, and she’s coming for a title.