Katharina Lehner

Katharina Lehner happy to represent Germany at Bellator Euro Series 9

Bellator featherweight competitor Katharina Lehner spoke to MyMMANews ahead of her fight against Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator Euro Series 9 on Saturday.

It has been a long year for Katharina Lehner. The former Invicta FC title challenger turned recent Bellator MMA signee has not competed since June 2019, and although she did not expect to be away from competition this long, there were a few obstacles she needed to clear before making her long-awaited return.

In her most recent fight, Lehner (7-2) lost to Lisa Spangler by unanimous decision at Invicta FC 35: Bennett vs. Rodriguez 2. The loss put her on a two-fight losing streak as she also lost to Sarah Kaufman a year earlier at Invicta FC 29: Kaufman vs. Lehner. This was a first for Lehner, who had never dealt with two losses in a row.

“The first loss was really hard for me against Sarah Kaufman and the second one was like, ‘Okay, it was my fault’ because I felt like my mindset wasn’t right,” Lehner told MyMMANews. “I didn’t show what I should and I was mentally not into the fight on this day.

“I think mindset is very important. Your mind is very important. Usually, I meditate a lot and I spent a long time visualizing my fight and everything. I felt like I didn’t do this the last time. I was in the cage and I was like, ‘What the [expletive] am I doing in here?’ and I hope that’s never going to happen again.”

She hoped to get back in the win column soon, so a few months after the Spangler fight, Lehner accepted a bout against Clara Ricignuolo under the Innferno FC banner.

The fight with Ricignuolo never happened, though. During training for the fight, Lehner suffered an arm injury that ultimately required surgery that put her out of action for a bit. She described the injury, which turned out being a dislocated elbow as well as torn ligaments and a damaged bicep, as “horrible” but something she knew she would have no problem coming back from.

“It happened last year in August during wrestling class,” said Lehner. “I did a takedown on someone and landed on my right arm, and yeah. It was a really bad injury, but I recovered pretty well so I think I went back to the gym two months after surgery. It usually takes like four to six months, but I kept trying.”

Lehner made a full recovery and was ready to fight again. She spoke to her manager, who said that she had to wait a little bit, so she set her sights on a fight sometime in February or March of 2020. A fight never materialized during her desired return because at this time, the world was just beginning to see lockdowns brought on due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the situation being relatively handled in her home country of Germany, Lehner said it was still difficult to get a fight.

“The situation in Germany was not too bad,” said Lehner. “I think our gym was closed for only two months or something like that. The problem is that events are still not really allowed with no audience or maybe 100 people and it’s hard to afford it. So, it was pretty hard to get a fight [because] there was no events going on at that time.”

Lehner continued to wait for an opportunity to arise, and soon, one did. Lehner and her team were made aware that an opponent for Bellator featherweight contender, Sinead Kavanagh, was needed and she let it be known that was very interested in that fight.


“I was hearing about that they were looking for someone for Sinead and I was talking to the CEO our gym about what he thinks about her and what he thinks about me fighting at featherweight for Bellator and he was like, ‘Yeah. It’s going to be a good fight. We should do it, if they accept.’ And they accepted, fortunately.”

It has been several years since Lehner last competed in the featherweight division, but she is not opposed to doing it going forward. She cites other competitors who have done the jump in weight classes before without issue as reason for her being able to do it as well.

While she has spent the majority of her career competing in the bantamweight division, Lehner believes she can find success at both 135 and 145 pounds. Plus, she does not have to cut a ton of weight, which is always a positive in her eyes.

“I feel the most comfortable at bantamweight, but right now, I think it is good because she also fought at bantamweight years ago,” said Lehner. “Also, a lot of girls in the featherweight division in Bellator usually are bantamweights or even flyweights. Look at Cat Zingano or Leslie Smith. They both were flyweights too, so yeah. It’s a little bit more relaxed because I don’t have to cut so much weight.”

As for the fight against Kavanagh, Lehner is expecting one hell of a fight on Saturday night.

“I know she’s a good striker. She’s a boxer. Of course, I’ve watched her fights and I think its going to be a war.”

Outside of being excited for the fight with Kavanagh, Lehner is also happy to represent Germany on such a grand stage. It is something that has always been important to her, and she hopes her appearance on Bellator Euro Series 9 will lead to more of an interest in German talent.

“I’m super excited because not many German fighters are fighting for Bellator,” said Lehner. “I have one friend here, Mandy Bohm [and] she is fighting on Thursday. It’s also her Bellator debut, so I’m super excited and a good thing is, if you’re fighting in Europe, you don’t have to travel so much. Traveling to the states for a fight is always super exhausting because of the time difference and the long flights, but now it’s super relaxed.”

Saturday night serves as the promotional debut for Lehner, who revealed she has only signed a one-fight deal with Bellator for now. If she is able to put on an excellent performance, then she thinks it will be enough for her to stick around for a while.

Lehner has already started scoping out the rest of her potential competition in Bellator, and has given a name she would like to meet in the future.

“I signed for a one-fight deal, so it’s just for a single fight but we will see,” Lehner said. “We can’t plan anything right now because we don’t know what’s going to happen. Things are actually getting worse in Europe right now. We are having more cases and everything, so I’m just focusing now on this fight and I’m pretty sure this fight is going to open a few more doors for me.

“I checked a few girls, and the funny thing is, when I started MMA, I always wanted to fight against Cat Zingano. This was the fight I wanted and it was like, ‘Kat vs. Cat would be awesome!’ and now she’s signed to Bellator. Maybe I can ask for her one day. That would be super cool.”

Katharina Lehner

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Kristen King