Molly McCann: The Evolution Continues

Molly McCann: The Evolution Continues 

We forget how much pressure a fighter has to endure in their respective career. It’s not just about the punishing relentless grind of training or the fight itself. Few of us think about the mental side of sport, each fighter has different goals, differing ambitions, one solitary defeat can be life changing, career-defining.

Many boxers have to fight with the pressure of keeping their 0, or their win streak going, knowing a loss could mean their promoters quickly lose interest and with it a severe financial hit.

It’s no different for MMA fighters, in many ways you could strongly argue it’s even worse, especially in the cut-throat world of the UFC. It’s tough to get there, even tougher to stay there.

Molly McCann entered her fight at UFC London in March, knowing a second straight loss would probably mean her UFC run would be over before it had really got started.

After her nightmare UFC debut in her hometown last May, McCann knew her hand was the one that had to be raised in London. Neither Priscila Cachoeira or a broken eye socket could stop her, and McCann was up and running, with a little slice of history made in the process. The smile, the badge of honour and the vodka in the back of the ambulance says everything about what it meant to her.

This Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina, McCann makes her third appearance under the bright lights. Another Brazilian, Ariane Lipski stands in her way this weekend, as McCann sets her sights on the top 15 of the flyweight division.

The defeat to Gillian Robertson last May left McCann devastated, questioning if she even belonged in the UFC. McCann has refreshingly been very open about her battle with anxiety, specifically after the loss in Liverpool.

Only now are we beginning to understand mental illness and the misery and suffering it can bring. The more people in the public eye that open up about the condition the less it becomes a taboo subject. We are only scratching the surface of mental illness, especially how to treat it, the more we talk about it, the more we learn, the more we help.

McCann (8-2) took time out after Liverpool, evolved her game and we saw the fruits of her labour against Cachoeira in London. McCann feels as though she is even better now, she knows if she is to crack the rankings, she will need to be.

The former KSW champion Lipski (11-4) stands in her way and is favoured to beat McCann. But Lipski is in a similar position to what McCann was in, a defeat in her UFC debut to Joanne Calderwood leaves Lipski potentially looking at a win or be cut scenario.

Lipski will be a tough ask for McCann, but the Liverpool working class hero isn’t the fighter she was last May, McCann strongly believes she isn’t even the fighter she was in March.

The evolution which began almost immediately after recovering consciousness in Liverpool is still very much ongoing. McCann realises she can’t rest on her laurels, if you stay the same you won’t stay.

Grappling and striking, including high-level sparring, have formed much of her camp this time around. McCann believes that will be the difference in the fight, an acceptance of the need to keep evolving, but she knows it won’t be easy, for McCann it rarely is.

But as McCann says herself, you can’t beat someone who doesn’t give up.

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