UFC Vegas 66: Cory McKenna hoping to kickstart run at strawweight top-15 with a dominant win over Cheyanne Vlismas | The Sun

UFC Vegas 66: Cory McKenna hoping to kickstart run at strawweight top-15 with a dominant win over Cheyanne Vlismas | The Sun

December 17, 2022

CORY MCKENNA plans to kickstart an assault on the UFC strawweight division's elite with a victory over Cheyanne Vlismas.

The Welshwoman returns to action on the final card of a stacked 2022 against her fellow Dana White's Contenders Series graduate at UFC Vegas 66 this evening.



McKenna, 23, is brimming with confidence following a return to the win column with a submission victory over Miranda Grainger in August.

And with the year drawing to a close, Poppins is hoping to find herself within touching distance of the killers at 115lbs this next time.

She told SunSport: "Next year, I would like to have at least three fights again and stay active. And, obviously, move my way up.

"Maybe touch on that top-15. The division is stacked right now, so I'm not too sure how that would line up. But that would be cool."

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Former Cage Warriors star McKenna went into her clash with Grainger on the back of the biggest loss of her career – a decision defeat to Elise Reed at UFC London in March.

But she was able to compartmentalize the heartache to turn in a career-best performance and secure victory with the rarely executed Von Flue choke.

She said: "I approached it [the fight] the same [way]. It was the second loss of my career, so I've done it before.

"I've learned how I dealt with it the first time probably wasn't the smartest. I kind of went a little bit insane.

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"But I just picked myself back up, dusted myself off and went away and addressed the things I needed to address and [was like], 'On to the next one.'

"I put it behind me because there's no point in wasting my time worrying about the last fight when I've got another one in front of me."

She added: "It felt great [to erase the memory of the loss].

"It's always great to be the first person to do something and I feel that I showed my [true] skillset.

"I feel like with the Reed fight, I wasn't myself. I had a lot of adversity in fight camp and I probably shouldn't have even been in that one. But I feel like I kind of got to do myself justice in the next one."

Returning to the O2 Arena in March at UFC 286 to attempt to exercise the ghost of her loss to Reed is something McKenna has thought about but refusing to dwell on.

When asked about potentially performing a quick turnaround to feature on the card, she said: "I used to plan ahead, I used to have all the big ideas.


"But the way my career has gone, it's definitely taught me to approach my career differently.

"Obviously I would like to [fight on that card], but for now I've got to focus on this fight, getting out healthy and seeing how things go afterwards."

November marked the two-year anniversary of McKenna's UFC run – which, despite the ups and down, she's thoroughly enjoyed.

She said: "It's definitely not been how I imagined, but I'm out here living the dream and working as hard as I can.

"I've not had as many fights as would've probably liked in the time period because of injuries and stuff and few setbacks.

"But I'm doing my best to make the most of it and I'm really enjoying my time here and I'm hoping to continue that on Saturday."

Victory over the in-form Vlismas would go a long way to bringing further enjoyment to McKenna and kicking off her bid to reach the top 15 by this time next year.

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She said: "I'm gonna do whatever I need to do to get my hand raised.

"Wherever the fight needs to go, I'm going to take it there and I'm going to get my hand raised."

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