Molly & Paddy: A Dream To Save & A Point To Make

Molly & Paddy: A Dream To Save & A Point To Make

It was a cold winter’s night in February 2018. The country would soon be hit with a deep snow, even the post-fight curry couldn’t warm for long. Trust me, cold doesn’t cover it. But the Echo Arena in Liverpool escaped the chill. Make no mistake, it is a fighting city, they back their own, in voice and passion.

It was more than just another fight night, the locals were there for a night of the utmost importance for Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann.

McCann was aiming to lift Cage Warriors gold, Pimblett on the road to redemption and the beginning of a new journey in a new weight class.

We all know how the main card of Cage Warriors 90 started and finished. On his way to the cage Pimblett put on a show, inside it, he lit up the arena. McCann finished the evening off in style. Both fighters had the look that they had outgrown their current home.

Both looked destined for the UFC, surely only a matter of time before they shared a stage together again on the biggest platform of all. But the sport rarely follows straight lines, and the lives and careers of McCann and Pimblett have hit many bumps in the road since that famous night in Liverpool.

McCann has bravely opened up about her mental health issues, and probably to the surprise of many, Pimblett has also. Their honesty will help plenty.

Pimblett has seen his career stalled by injuries, but now with added maturity, the latest call to the UFC has come at just the right time. Pimblett looks in the shape of his life and is promising a performance to match the considerable hype that is around him. Pimblett will open the main card, the UFC clearly have high hopes for a fighter they have been keen to have on their roster for many years.

McCall after that heart-breaking start to her UFC career, went on a 3-fight winning run, before the pandemic hit, which crucially took away all the momentum ‘Meatball’ had. The cancelled London show from last March almost certainly cost her win number 4 in the UFC. The restrictions of training and fighting in the middle of the pandemic lost McCann those fine margins that are the difference between winning and losing. But regardless of the circumstances, the two defeats have left McCann fighting for her UFC future once again.

But McCann has shown time and time again her resilience and when she appears down and out, she seems to find another level when it is needed the most. The fight with Ariane Lipski was McCann at her finest. Punch perfect, practically flawless everywhere the fight went. McCann was good that night. Very good.

On September 4th McCann and Pimblett are back sharing a card. The Liverpool duo head to Las Vegas in good spirits despite differing fortunes in recent months. McCann faces Ji Yeon Kim and Pimblett makes his initial walk against Luigi Vendramini.

For McCann it is about keeping the dream alive, two straight defeats puts everything at risk. But the recent setbacks haven’t dampened the ambition in McCann. Vegas could see a Lipski type performance once again.

McCann sees the fight in Vegas as “go big or go home,” the last fight on her UFC contract, a win is a must.

For Pimblett, it is about announcing himself to a new audience. Pimblett is confident, brash, outspoken and firmly believes he will take the UFC by storm. Six years ago he said he would smoke Conor McGregor, he has repeated the same line again. Pimblett isn’t coming to the UFC content just to be there.

Even before he enters the UFC Octagon, he is making waves, already a wanted man, Pimblett will not be short of opponents wanting to welcome him to his new home.

Saturday’s card was originally slated for London, but the lingering effects of the pandemic have shifted the card to Vegas. A packed O2 Arena, or with a Liverpool heavy card, a home city show, would have been some spectacle for the Pimblett walkout, and McCann seems to thrive from such a setting. But the subdued Apex atmosphere is likely to be lifted beyond its usual normality on a night where a star could be born and a dream saved.

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