Molly & Paddy: A Year of Redemption & So Much More
The freezing temperatures were made even colder by the bitterly cold wind coming from the Mersey.
The winter of 2018 was about to take one last bite, but before the snow that engulfed much of the country came, two Liverpool MMA fighters temporarily raised the temperature inside the Echo Arena.
Paddy Pimblett opened the main card and started his lightweight career with a win, while Molly McCann closed the show and her Cage Warriors career ended with the promotions flyweight belt around her waist.
Fortunes have changed for Pimblett and McCann since that memorable night. Sadly for Pimblett it’s been nearly two years of frustration, a career of great promise stalled by injury.
But McCann has risen from the ashes of a bitter disappointment and heartbreak, to finally getting a long over-due UFC ranking and real hope of moving into title contention this year.
In the space of 24 hours in March both will look to take the next steps in their careers. Pimblett will be looking to reignite a faltering period of late on March 20th when Cage Warriors returns to the Indigo in London, and the following day McCann will aim to extend her hugely impressive UFC win streak in the adjacent O2 Arena.
Pimblett has suffered with injury for much of the last two years, and he feared his career was already over. But the time away has made him re-evaluate his life and career, and with the wrist injury which threatened so much, finally on the mend, Pimblett enters 2020 with a point to prove, to his critics and maybe more to himself.
You don’t always appreciate what you have until it’s gone, and Pimblett without the temptations and innocence of his youth, is a totally different person to the one we saw when he last competed in September 2018.
The day after Pimblett launches his comeback, his teammate and friend will look to knock a little louder on the door to the bigger fights in the UFC flyweight division. McCann might have got her ranking, but that won’t satisfy her.
McCann perhaps should have been ranked long before now. 3 wins on the bounce, all in difficult circumstances, has seen her career reach heights her doubters would never have imagined after her UFC debut ended with her being choked unconscious in Liverpool in May 2018.
A broken eye socket, a big betting underdog and suspected food poisoning all couldn’t stop McCann moving to 3-1 in the UFC, there always seems to be a hurdle she has to clear, which she does with few complaints.
2019 was about staying and establishing herself in the UFC, and with that mission firmly accomplished, the new calendar year will see new goals.
McCann craved that top 15 ranking but she won’t be satisfied with that #15 position, a title run very much the long-term target.
Pimblett after a proposed comeback failed to materialise late last year, will be hoping he finally gets the chance to get his career up and running again.
McCann faces Ashlee Evans-Smith at UFC London, a dangerous but necessary step to what lies ahead. The fears of facing a grappler long since gone.
At a time when one season ends and another begins, both Pimblett and McCann will be looking for wins that could catapult them on to much bigger things.
A victory in London should see McCann fight a fellow contender with the chance then to move even higher up the rankings.
For Pimblett, a win could finally see him end up in the UFC, a place where his talents should have been sometime ago.
Both have expressed interest in being on the UFC Dublin card, if both leave London with victories their wish becomes a distinct possibility.