An Interview With UFC Fighter Molly McCann
By Leigh Dent
With another Fight Night scheduled for London in March, UK fans have been thirsting for a fight announcement, with conversations flying back and forth on social media about who we want to see on the card. Timed almost to perfection with my scheduled interview with Molly McCann, she forms half of the first officially announcement; this time facing Priscila Cachoeira (8-1) of Brazil.
Molly talked us through what she feels are her keys to victory this time around, whilst being reflective and objective about her UFC debut.
“Time’s on me side to prepare fully for this opponent so the pros are that I’ve got a camp and I’ve got long enough to get my body ready for what’s going to be asked of it. For the last one on my debut, it was like… I’d just won a world title in February and was told I wasn’t fighting until September, so I’d been on a few holidays. I was living the champ life and with 5-6 weeks to go, they were like, ‘there you go,’ and I was like ‘oh my god.’ You don’t turn it down, but probably, looking back…I would have always made the same decision but them UFC lights, I can’t tell you how different it is in that cage, but I’m fully prepared. I know what it takes now to win.
“It’s the first time I’d ever been relaxed because everyone was telling me you’re never going to get this chance again, so just enjoy it and no matter what Molly, you’ve made it and I think I just looked around and I couldn’t believe that many people was there. I couldn’t believe the support. I am this little girl from Liverpool and the whole city was there to cheer me on. It was so humbling and I watched it back the other day and I just thought, you know what, I’ve licked me wounds and I’m ready to go again and then we got the call, and basically my coach said to me, ‘I’m not putting you out again until I think you can tap one of the black belts in the division and not get tapped by one of the black belts in the division.”
What stood out when chatting to Molly, was the ownership she takes for how her UFC debut panned out. By being brutally honest with herself, it appears that Molly has learnt more from her loss against Gillian Roberts, than perhaps any of her notable wins to date collectively. Molly’s determination is undeniable, as she talked us through the evolution of her arsenal going forward.
“We’re 6 months since the last fight and we’re ready to go now. I have dedicated the last 6 months of my life to grappling only. Nothing else, just grappling and its paying dividends now. I haven’t got to go in thinking too much, I’m confident in every area of me game and I’ve never been someone to shy away from saying jiu-jitsu is my weaker area. I wouldn’t even say it was wrestling, I haven’t had the rounds on the mat. Maybe I didn’t make it as much of a priority as it should have been.
“I made a crap decision, it was nobody else’s fault. People blamed it down to the weight cut or the coach or training partners but no, it was Molly McCann’s fault. She chose to go on all fours when she should have rolled to her back and that’s that.”
What can we hope to see when March arrives and Molly is under the UFC lights for the second time in her career? Molly has a clear vision for what to expect, and clearly understands her strengths going into this fight.
“What is Molly McCann known for? She’s known to press people to the cage, to make them quit or to knock them out and Molly McCann is fighting a Brazilian version of herself. However, she’s a lot more raw and not as technical as what I am. She’s a lot bigger than me and stylistically, do I go to war with her, call her to the centre of the cage, ‘let’s have it,’ or do I absolutely piece her up, light her up, move, bop bop, move and put on a striking clinic ‘cos if we’re being honest here, she’s 8 and 1.
“She’s never been finished with strikes. I am 7 and 2. I’ve never been finished, I’ve never been dropped. I’ve been off balanced and knocked down, but I’ve never been dropped. My coach said to me, ‘Who are we going to get in? Who’s the last girl to ever wobble you?
And there’s never been one man, woman or dog.”
Molly clearly oozes confidence and knows she holds fire in her fists. Anybody who has followed her career in Cage Warriors knows what this girl is capable of. Speaking to Molly was refreshing however, in that she knows not to discredit her opponent and has obviously taken lessons away from Cachoeira’s previous (and only) loss to Valentina Shevchenko, which resulted in a submission win from the latter and a particular referee coming under serious fire for allowing a wild extent of damage to ensue.
‘In [Cachoeira]’s last fight, everyone’s ringing me up saying , ‘Have you seen her last fight against Valentina Shevchenko?’ I went, ‘Are you blind?’ She blew her ACL and she stepped back, and she’s blew her kneecap out. She’s gone 2 rounds with a blown ACL and not give up. As battered as she got, I know this girl’s not going to give in.
People say she’s from Rio. please, I’m from Liverpool. You best get to know who I am.
“I still believe I’m the best in the world at what I do. You’re under that much scope, there’s no hiding and with the ups, come the downs. If I’m being brutally honest, I have been so obsessed with improving.
“Every day has been about being the next level. All I’ve done is grappling competitions. I wouldn’t even rule out a submission but whatever comes is gonna come. I just know she’s going to be nervy because she’s had 9 months off. She’s coming back from the injury, she’s 8 and 1 so she’s been through the mill. I’ve watched her fights, which I don’t normally do, but this girl is game. It’s gonna be…it will be one of them fights that could potentially get fight of the night because not one of us is going to give up.”
With Molly and Priscilla being the first of many fights to be announced for the London card, I asked Molly who she hopes will be representing the UK alongside her in March.
“Obviously, I would like me gym brother, Chris Fishgold and I think there’s every chance of him getting on the card. I would love Nathaniel Wood ‘cos he’s Cage Warriors vet and ex-champion. I’d like to see Jimi Manuwa headline because I think he deserves that.
“There’s a lot of talk about Darren Till fighting Ben Askren, and I don’t think that’s a good fight for him right now. He deserves another striker, a war, get his confidence back and then go up and fight Askren if he wants. I just don’t think he needs that right now.”
To those who have followed McCann’s career, it is unquestionable that she has had a whirlwind rise to the top. Having only made her professional debut in 2015, her rise to championship status in Cage Warriors seemed meteoric, but inevitable. Molly shared with us the highlight of her career to date, and her anecdote was powerful and unsurprisingly, humbling and grounded.
“There was a fight against a woman called Valerie Domergue and it was my third professional fight. It was for a title and it’s a bit of an X-factor story, but I found out on that day that my dad only had about 6 weeks to live. This was going to be the last fight he was ever going to be at. My head just spun off and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, oh my god…’ and it was a 3 round war. She broke me nose, she tore me hamstring…but I smashed it, and I won, and the happiest moment for me was to give me dad the belt the next day. That’s probably up there. Just to see his and me Mums’ smile. They’ve never missed a fight so that’s probably it.”
To anybody who follows Molly on social media, it reads the simple message of positivity. Family and teammates are at the centre of everything Molly does and achieves, and it is for this reason that she has captured the hearts of so many fans here in the UK.
Admittedly, Molly wears her heart on her sleeve and she openly reflected on what it was about her personality and self-portrayal that makes her, well… so damn likable.
“I’d just done a document on women in sports and was asked, ‘Do you see yourself as an inspiration?’ And I thought, ‘Oh I don’t know, it’s a little bit arrogant.’
“Just for anyone who knows my life story and who’s seen a documentary on me or read anything about me…I’ve gone from a kid whose parents were drug addicts and alcoholics, to not choosing that path, to wanting to be an athlete, to wanting to be a boxer. The gyms wouldn’t let me in, so I used to fight outside in the car park until they let me in.
“People probably like the story of an underdog, and I’ve never been allowed it, or it’s always been wrote off. For me, the emotional side is what people connect with and because I wear my heart on my sleeve. The MMA community knew how much my dad meant to me and when he got sick, they saw the pain. I just didn’t quit and I think people just took that on and thought, ‘Fair play Mol.’ The other month, Liverpool released its top 25 most influential women of all time and I was 23, and I was like ‘Whaaaat?!’
“If you look at my social media compared to any other female in the UFC, mine’s always about positivity, nothing negative and about supporting teammates or my family, or whatever, and you look at someone else’s and it’ll be like sex sells or pictures of them in a bikini.”
MMA has had a wild 2018, with twists and turns galore, both for fighters in their professional capacities, but also for us as fans. Molly shared her personal highlights. The more I chatted to Molly and the more I came to understand her motives and values, the themes are evident. Everything Molly achieves is not purely for herself, but for those she cares about and for those who have played a part in her successes.
“Highlights of the year for me… I won the world title for the gym and for my family. That was mostly for my coach, Paul. It was really nice to see the hard work that he puts into us at the gym. He got paid back with another big, shiny belt for the gym, do you know what I mean? Again, me and Chris Fishgold getting signed to the UFC is all part of his work.
“I think the biggest thing for me was getting through the dark times. With such highs, came such a low that I’d only really experienced when somebody had died, not when a goal had been crushed. I felt like I had battled so hard to get there…and it just wouldn’t be a Molly McCann story if I’d had won it round first time. But that’s the highlight; to have worked so hard and in the face of adversity, I could have shied away and thought, ‘f..k this.’ But I proper owned it, I didn’t hide from social media or interviews, because I got caned online. A lot of people just said Cage Warriors was crap, you’re not even worth a world title, ‘blah blah blah’ people just coming for you for no reason.”
With four of the biggest names in female MMA about to face off before the year is out, I couldn’t help but ask how Molly sees upcoming bouts between Jedrzejczyk/Shevchenko and Cyborg/ Nunes playing out, starting with the former.
“Joanna. Well, I’d like Joanna to win, but Valentina will. I don’t like either of them. Sorry, I did like Joanna at the beginning but all the crap she did to Rose, I just weren’t a fan of it. So maybe I don’t like either of them is a bit far gone like. That’s the reason why she’s as good as she is, but on the other hand, that’s her downfall.
“[Valentina]’s got no loyalty to anyone. Where does she pronounce she’s from? She’s Russian, but says she’s from somewhere else. She trains in Peru or Denver and she doesn’t hold it down. No, she just uses people and then goes.
“I’m loyal to the end, which probably gets me into more trouble than it’s worth, but my time will come with her, I’m telling ya. I said I will fight Valentina Shevchenko. I can see us having a trilogy. The whole of the world would be behind me, she’s got about 10 mates!”
After learning more about Molly and having the opportunity to speak directly with her, I would describe this rising star as humble, honest and grounded. Molly ended our interview with the perfect response, when asked to do the same about herself.
I don’t know if it’s a bit bad if I say funny?
I should have just said A.D.D.’
Molly faces Priscila Cachoeria at UFC Fight Night London on March 16th, 2019.