An Interview With Molly McCann: A Year Of Evolution
We saw at the weekend in Saudi Arabia all to visibly when success becomes a restriction and a hindrance to further success.
Molly McCann is highly unlikely to allow champagne to drip into her veins. McCann has enjoyed much success in 2019 but is far too grounded and level-headed to lose sight of what lies ahead. What she has gained has been too hard-fought to let go, and more importantly there is still much more to come yet, the work is far from finished, but it has been some 12 months for the UFC flyweight.
McCann started the year on the brink, seeking survival and needing evolution, then it was about getting established and with 3 straight wins she enters 2020 chasing a UFC flyweight ranking and so much more.
I had the immense pleasure of speaking to McCann last week just hours after news broke of her first fight for 2020 being announced.
UFC London will be her next port of call in March where she will fight the American Ashlee Evans-Smith (6-4) and despite not getting the ranked opponent she badly wanted, her opponent still excites her and sees real benefit of defeating her to further her own career.
“She’s not ranked but she is really credible, a well known name with most of her wins being in the UFC she is another scalp to take. Evans-Smith has a lot of pull even though she is not ranked. I asked for a ranked opponent and on the main card but I don’t have a say in who I fight, but she is no pushover with some good wins on her record.”
After 3 straight wins, McCann could be excused for feeling a little aggrieved of not being ranked in the top of 15 of her division.
“I wouldn’t say frustrated, I just don’t think they think I am worthy yet, but I don’t know how it all works, if I did I would perhaps be a little more aggrieved, I just have to keep winning and take each fight as it comes.”
This time last year McCann was in a totally different place, she was 0-1 in the UFC and there was a real possibility of her being cut if she did not win her next fight.
“This time last year I hadn’t got a win, on the verge of a breakdown. But I’m not going to sit back and be in awe of what I have achieved, I haven’t even got a ranking yet. Even though I have won the fights its been hard, I have had to work so hard for the wins, I haven’t been given no easy fights.”
Nothing comes easy for McCann, there always seems to be some drama even in victory, a broken eye socket in London earlier this year when she got her maiden UFC win, McCann was sick before her last fight in Boston everything in her life has been a struggle.
“You have to deal with the cards you have been dealt, you have to fight in and outside of the cage. The world doesn’t owe me anything, life is a fight for everyone, I have to go out and get it.”
Life is very different from what it was a few years ago, gone are the days of working to supplement her MMA
“I’m not working now, I used to have to work to get by, I have a much better balance now, my relationship is going great, I have a dog now, I have nothing to complain about, everything is good.”
Last time out in Boston in October, McCann went 3-1 in the UFC when she defeated Diana Belbita to improve her overall record to 10-2. A victory not without drama.
“I was happy to get the win, I just wasn’t happy with my performance. I was sick in the changing room, I was sick after the fight, I am sure it was food poisoning. I still dominated, nearly got the finish, but it was supposed to be my crowning moment. If I had got the finish I could have been facing Maycee Barber next. But I have to take the positives out of it, I’m impressed with how I handled it. Even on my worst night I still got the win.”
There is no doubt McCann has evolved her game so much, her skills, her fight IQ, everything.
“I am a lot more confident fighter, I’m confident wherever the fight goes now because of all the hard work I have done over the last year. Everything is going forward at the right pace, I’m not being rushed. Another year or so I will be at my peak, I just have to keep progressing. If you don’t accept the need to change you just get stuck in the same cycle”
Opinions changed of many when McCann upset the strongly favoured Ariane Lipski in Greenville in an almost flawless performance.
“I was supposed to be the lamb to the slaughter and I changed a lot of opinions in that fight and I feel my next fight will do the same. Evans-Smith is the first grappler I have been given since my loss to Gillian in Liverpool, and I think yes, I am excited because it is a chance to show more of my skills off.”
Every time I speak to McCann or see one of her interviews I never fail to be impressed. Achieved plenty over the past year for sure, but there is no sense of arrogance or thinking she is the finished article, the work goes on.
“My coach Paul Rimmer sat me down and said the only way to beat the ranked fighters in my division, is to get in and get out. I have noticed when I am getting out of range I am getting caught, so even though things are working well I know there is still improvement to be made.
“I got to the UFC on heart, I did things my way, I had to change. I now have the time and the funds to go to certain places to train and get the training partners and nutrition I need to compete in the UFC. Even when I am not in fight camp I’m still in the gym that is when I train to learn.”
To close the interview I asked McCann what her ideal 2020 would be.
“To carry on being healthy in mind and body, give some good solid performances and be knocking on the door of Shevchenko. My coach thinks I am 5 fights away from challenging her, I will take one fight at a time to reach my goal.”