Meet Wendy and Cory McKenna, the mother and daughter team making waves in MMA
Successful siblings in MMA are rare.
The Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate, are certainly the most famous family duo in the sport, while Joe and Dan Lauzon and Jim and Dan Miller have all enjoyed good times in the field of human combat.
When it comes to parent and child success stories, Suffolk’s only UFC star, Arnold Allen, started his training with dad Pacer, and the duo still often get put through their paces together.
But a mother and daughter making waves in the cage? Almost unheard of.
Until you meet Wendy and Cory McKenna, that is.
Wendy, 36, is the proud mum and unbeaten professional, while Cory, 17, is the MMA wonderkid that everybody in the sport in this country is tipping for the very top.
The duo, who live in Colchester, got into the sport at roughly the same time and train together at regional MMA powerhouse gym BKK Fighters.
“I started karate about 10 years ago and the kids started doing it with me,” Wendy explained.
“Then Cory got into Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, ended up dragging me along and through that I got into MMA.”
Wendy duly had her first MMA fight two years ago and went on to compile a 3-3 record as an amateur, winning both the BCMMA flyweight and straw-weight titles, despite being undersized for the divisions.
She made her pro debut at BCMMA 17 in December, dominating Ella Wu in a decision victory.
Not only is she supported by Cory, who often corners her in fights, but also son Bryn, 12, – himself a talented young fighter – and husband Gareth.
They’ve even converted two rooms in their house to fuel their fistic passions – a former living room is now a home gym, while the garage is matted floor to ceiling for BJJ and sparring purposes.
“It’s just a way of life for us now,” said Wendy.
“The training and atmosphere at BKK is great and we have a great group of friends.
“You get a big buzz from the adrenaline of training and fighting – it’s something that I always wanted to do and I just fell in love with it.”
As a fairly late-comer to the sport, Wendy is aiming to go as far as she can – targeting Invicta, the world’s biggest female-only fighting promotion, as her ultimate goal.
“Three years ago I was just happy to have a fight, let alone go pro,” she explained.
“It was my dream to have my picture on the wall at BKK but now anything is possible.
“If I could get on Invicta then that would be great for me.”
Wendy’s fighting endeavours are also keenly followed by her workmates – she’s the only female refuse collector working for Colchester Borough Council, and has an army of binmen backing her career.
“I work with 100-odd blokes and they think it’s amazing,” she said.
“They love it when I’m fighting and a lot of them want to watch it – I think everyone is scared of me!”
Of her daughter, who boasts a 6-0 record as an amateur and collected her old straw-weight belt on BCMMA 17, Wendy added: “Cory’s always been a fighter and she’s a very strong character.
“I find it easier watching her compete than my son – he did an interclub fight and I had to leave the room!
“She’s going to go far in her career. I do worry when she fights, but I know that she’s not going to get hurt.
“She’s so talented – as long as she’s sensible, there’s no reason why she won’t be in the UFC, in fact she’s said she wants to be the youngest female fighter ever in the UFC.”
Cory, who scored mostly A’s in her GCSEs at the Thomas Lord Audley School in Colchester, is now a full-time athlete.
“I love the fact that there’s always something to learn,” she said. “I’m constantly learning and improving.
“I just want to be in the best fights possible and be as good as I can be.”
Of her mum, she added: “When it comes to her fighting, she’s not my mum, she’s my team-mate and it’s no different to anyone else.”
- Cory is due to fight at BCMMA 18 on February 18 at the Charter Hall in Colchester. Visit www.bcmma.co.uk for tickets etc.
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