CORY McKenna is itching to take on the world's best after becoming the first Welsh woman to earn a UFC contract.
The 21-year-old strawweight from Cwmbran beat Vanessa Demopolous in Las Vegas on the latest Dana White's Contender Series event.
McKenna beat the 31-year-old LFA champion and was rewarded by White with a UFC place, joining fellow Gwent fighters Jack Shore and Jack Marshman plus west Walians Brett Johns and John Phillips.
She has become the youngest Brit to earn a UFC contract – winning a sportsman's bet with England's Arnold Allen in the process – and is confident that she can thrive against the cream of the crop.
"I've just turned 21 but it's not about age in this sport, it's about experience and I have been fighting in MMA since I was 15," said McKenna, who will now move to Sacramento to train with Team Alpha Male under the guidance of UFC great Urijah Faber.
"I have been in there with the top girls in Europe and have been fighting for many years. I will step in there with anyone.
"As soon as they'll let me in there, I'll get in there. I don't care where it is, I don't care who it is.
"I just want to get going, I want to see how far I can take it and how fast."
Only 2️⃣1️⃣ years old!
— UFC (@ufc) August 12, 2020
Beating Demopoulos, who was hunting a fifth straight professional victory, has given McKenna a boost ahead of her UFC debut.
"Vanessa matches up with quite a lot of the girls in the UFC outside of the top 10. It's a game of margins and there are very slim differences," she said.
"To beat Vanessa is testament to the level that I am working at. I will go away, make those improvements, get back in there and I am very confident that I can step in there against any of those girls."
Abertillery's Shore said after his dominant UFC victory against John Phillips on Fight Island in July that he had plenty more to come and McKenna shares his hunger for learning in training camps.
"There is room for improvement everywhere. I got to show a bit more of my striking but there were moments when perhaps I wasn't as switched on as I should have been," she admitted after the three-round fight.
"I have a terrible tendency to leave my coaches on the edge of their seats and not necessarily listen to them all of the time!
"There are improvements (to be made) everywhere, there always is. I will never be satisfied with anything that I do and I am striving for perfection."
McKenna has joined Shore, Marshman, Johns and Phillips and believes more compatriots will soon get the call from UFC supremo White.
"There is a lot of Welsh talent coming up, even the amateur shows are very entertaining to watch and there are some absolute killers coming out of them," said McKenna, who caught the eye in Cage Warriors and whose mother Wendy was a MMA fighter.
"There are going to be a lot of fighters coming through and there are five of us now (in the UFC) and hopefully that will inspire a few more people to step in and follow the path."