Making her promotional debut today at Bellator 199 in San Jose, California, Australian featherweight Janay Harding found herself on the wrong side of the judges scorecards after a three round war with American Amber Leibrock.
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Sherdog.com has play-by-play of the fight.
Round 1: Harding jabs her way into range and forces the clinch. Both featherweights are trading knees in close quarters. Leibrock assumes control, lands a couple knees before Harding turns her foe into the fence. Leibrock continues to land knees to the midsection of her opening in the clinch. The women remain in the clinch, but Leibrock continues to deliver knees to the gut. They separate and Harding lands a couple elbows before Leibrock answers with a left. The fighters return to the center of the cage. Harding looks more comfortable landing offense at range. Leibrock backs up Harding with a counter left. Leibrock connects with a hard left hook. Harding presses the action and follows a body kick with a left hand. Harding picks up the pace, attacking with another body kick and punches against the fence. A straight right from Leibrock snaps Hardin’s head back. Harding staggers to her knees after eating a right hand. Leibrock ends the round with some more hard right hands, but Harding stays in it. 10-9 Leibrock.
Round 2: Leibrock follows a low kick with a punching combination. A liver kick lands for Leibrock. Harding marches forward and lands a few right hands before Leibrock lands a hard right hand counter of her own. That backs Harding up for a moment. Harding forces the action with kicks to the body and then short elbows in close quarters. They tie up and Leibrock pushes her opponent into the cage and lands a knee. Harding lands an elbow and a punch in close. A hard body kick cracks Harding, who backs up Leibrock with a right hand. Harding pushes the pace, teeing off on Leibrock with punches, elbows and knees against the fence. Leibrock grabs a leg to slow down the assault. Leibrock lands a pair of glancing head kicks. A front kick by Leibrock finds Harding’s face. Leibrock continues the kicking attack as the round ends. 10-9 Harding.
Round 3: Right off the bat, the featherweights meet in the center of the cage and trade punches and kicks. Both Leibrock and Harding continue to mix up their attacks. A kick to the body lands for Leibrock. Moments later, a high kick lands for Leibrock and Harding tumbles to the mat. However, it appears that Harding’s fall was due to a lack of balance. Leibrock attacks the body with another left liver kick. Leibrock stays persistent with her kicks. A right hand lands clean for Leibrock, but Harding eats it without issue. Both fighters have maintained a high pace as the fight winds down. Leibrock lands a knee in the Thai plum and then separates. A front kick from Leibrock sends Harding back just before the fight ends. 10-9 Leibrock (29-28 Leibrock).
The judges scored the bout 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26 in favor of the American.
Fighting out of Australian Top Team in Western Sydney by way of the Gold Coast, Harding (3-3) went into the contest on the back of a second round TKO win over Ramona Pascual in the E-1 World Championship promotion back in mid-2017 (video).
The 23 year-old Aussie was recently scheduled to compete on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series however visa issues forced her to withdraw.