An Interview With UFC Flyweight Molly McCann
I’ve been asked numerous times why Molly McCann is my favourite MMA fighter, despite much competition for the honour that admittedly nobody cares about. To be honest it’s a difficult one to answer, like your football team of choice something just grabs you.
There’s a lot of BS and fakeness in this world, and personally I grew tired of it long ago, but with McCann you know you get what you see, and then some. Brutally honest with her words of choice, maybe a little too much so at times, but you know what she says she means.
Despite numerous chats on social media, the way the modern age seems to work, I’ve never spoken directly to McCann prior to this interview. I’ve actually been in the same room with her at a Cage Warriors show, but didn’t get to cease the moment.
Funnily enough the wife has, her indoors managed to beat me to it, she had an actual conversation with McCann, a rare delight I’m sure for the former Cage Warriors champion, and one that hopefully she has made a full recovery from.
Nothing ever seems to come easy for McCann, a life of never ending battles and the start of her UFC career was no different. After being crowned the Cage Warriors flyweight champion in her home city of Liverpool in February 2018, the UFC announced it would be coming to Liverpool in May the same year. The big show in her hometown McCann wanted in. But it was right place wrong time for McCann, enjoying life as the champion and a relatively late call-up meant the timing was from ideal. Missing weight for the fight, a short camp primarily the reason for that, and a defeat to Gillian Robertson left McCann doubting her right to be in the UFC.
But months of hard-work followed, hundreds of hours on the mats improving her ground game, changing her diet and mindset and the evolution had commenced.
I wanted to know if McCann had won her UFC debut would she have changed things so dramatically:
“It was a very painful blessing in disguise and because the layoff was so long that followed I had time to get better. But if I had beaten Gillian I don’t think I would have changed things so much, the defeat was very much bitter sweet”
McCann after the subsequent period of self-doubt is now at peace with the loss:
“I know if I had time to rehydrate and had a full camp it would have been a different result, but it really doesn’t matter now. Gillian and I are cool now”
McCann changed everything after Liverpool:
“I needed to be more professional, other than my coaches everything changed, nutrition, strength conditioning, I got to the UFC on heart, I needed to refine and become a much better version of myself.”
The UFC are known to be pretty ruthless in cutting fighters, and I wanted to know if being potentially cut was on her mind during the fight with Priscila Cachoeira when she made her reappearance in March this year in London:
“No, not in the fight but at the start of the camp and brief moments after. I was told if I was submitted like that again I would be cut. I handled it by smashing it every single time I went on the mats, or in sparring, on a run or riding the bike. Priscila and I showed how much we wanted it in the fight, showing the UFC you can’t cut us.”
I said to McCann you certainly didn’t show any nerves despite the pressure of the situation:
“It might have looked like that, but all I did from the moment I got up that morning was cry, I told people I was living my dream. When I went out to fight I just couldn’t stop screaming and after I won I was the happiest person ever to have a broken orbital that’s how much it meant to me.”
McCann drinking vodka in the ambulance on the way to the hospital after the fight certainly shows just what the win meant, nothing could spoil her moment.
After the win over Cachoeira there didn’t look to be any doubt in McCann’s mind that she had won the fight, but I asked if McCann had doubted the decision herself. I said I had seen a small minority on line saying she didn’t win which surprised me because it seemed there was little doubt McCann won the first two rounds and arguably the 3rd as well.
“If you look at the statistics I clearly won the fight, and my coach Paul Rimmer said I won the 3rd round as well. I focus on the people that matter, their opinions are the ones I focus on. When Michael Bisping says I am his favourite fighter out of the UK and what my family and friends say that’s what matters to me.”
McCann is one of the most level headed and grounded fighters in the sport in my opinion and I wanted to know what she felt of her performance and how she could improve further.
“I would liked to have thrown more kicks to get into range, I used a lot of feints and dirty boxing that was the only real negative. But when you consider the nerves and the demons from the loss in Liverpool I looked good, the first round was almost flawless, the 2nd round I mostly dominated and the 3rd I showed what heart I have, what I am about.”
McCann was so fired up for the fight my only concern during the opening round that she would empty her cardio.
“I was a little tired in the 3rd, but footwork tires you out and Priscila kept coming at me, I had to throw hard to keep her off.”
McCann is making a quicker than expected return when the UFC visits Greenville in June and faces another Brazilian in Ariane Lipski (11-4) and McCann knows she is in for another tough fight, but feels she will be even better for this fight.
“I’ve gone back to my boxing roots and I will be fitter and stronger for Lipski. My coach said in the last week of camp for the last fight that I am not just a boxer who they can easily takedown, I’m a proper mixed martial artist now. We’ve got three different ways we can approach this fight. She might hit a little harder and have more range but it doesn’t matter where the fight ends up I feel superior to Lipski. She might be able to keep it at range for a while, but I think I have only fought one fighter smaller than me in my entire career, its nothing new.”
Fighters tend to have one eye on the future, and I wondered if McCann had anyone in mind should she emerge victorious in June.
“A fighter called Shana Dobson was calling me out on social media and when the call came for this fight I thought I would be getting Dobson, so I don’t know if I would get her next, but I am not looking past Lipski, but I really don’t care who I fight.”
The Meatball nickname famously came from a period working nights in Subway, and even now she still works, but not because she has to.
“I’ve always worked, Subway, a call centre for 8 months and then quit that and went personal training full time, which I still do now. I do it now, because I choose to, not because I have to, I want to give something back and change people’s lives.”
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite TV Show: Game of Thrones
Favourite Film: Gladiator
Favourite MMA Fighters: Amanda Nunes & Michael Bisping
Favourite MMA Fights: Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje & Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 2
What One Thing in MMA Would You Change: The rule which does not allow soccer kicks or 12-6 elbows.
Despite this being my first proper conversation with McCann it felt like we had chatted before on many occasions, which to me says everything about McCann. The working class hero she likes to portray is no gimmick, its just her, no pretence, no big time who has lost sight of her where she came from, and I seriously doubt that will ever change.
One day there will be a must read autobiography on the life and times of Molly McCann, but there are many chapters still to write.