Molly McCann: Vegas & Beyond
Life hasn’t always been kind to Molly McCann. There has been heartache and tragedy in a life where her resilience has been tested far more outside of the cage than inside it.
The UFC Octagon is perhaps her natural home, a sport that has given her so much. The importance of what MMA gave her can never be fully appreciated by outsiders. But even her sport has tested her beyond what any normal day job has any right to do.
The emotional and physical sacrifice is unimaginable to mere mortals. Fighters are a rare breed, underappreciated by many, McCann perhaps goes even further. She has had to fight harder than most.
After a shaky start to her UFC career, McCann rebounded and after three straight wins she was looking ahead to being ranked inside the top 10 of the UFC flyweight division. A fight with Ashlee Evans-Smith was scheduled for last March, a more than winnable fight, McCann was seemingly within touching distance of a chance at UFC gold.
But when Covid struck, McCann lost momentum and so much more. UFC London was cancelled, when McCann returned, it was with training camps with varying degrees of restrictions. Make no mistake, despite her best efforts, we saw a lesser version of McCann in her two defeats.
McCann went from a career-high to very quickly having to fight for her UFC life. Not for the first time, McCann was fighting for survival. Fight and survive she did.
The trip to Vegas early last month was one with everything on the line. With one fight left on her existing UFC contract, McCann had to win or she would be cut. It was that simple.
The UFC obituary was being written. But with her back against the wall, McCann was never going to be found wanting.
A fighter under pressure, a fight to keep the dream alive. It wasn’t a night for the faint-hearted. But on nights like these, McCann seems to find another level.
Unlike her previous two UFC appearances, this was a fully prepared Molly McCann. Her opponent, Ji Yeon Kim was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was the old nasty ‘Meatball’ brought back to salvage her UFC career. In this mood, McCann was never going to be denied.
McCann left Vegas a winner once again, and with a 50k bonus thrown in for good measure. In the gambling city, McCann rolled the dice and won. It was probably the safest bet of the week.
The UFC story has a few more chapters to write, with McCann anything is possible. The ‘Bisping’ narrative can’t be ruled out. Setbacks along the way don’t mean the summit can’t be reached.
But McCann has one eye on the future. A return to boxing is being planned after her MMA career has run its natural course. She left boxing because of a lack of opportunities, when she returns, McCann will find a completely different sport. The Liverpool favourite will not be short of opportunities when the inevitable happens.
With a UFC career still active and a boxing return in the works, that should be enough for anyone. But McCann is looking even beyond that. A life behind the gloves beckons, the tentative first steps have already been taken.
McCann made her punditry debut this past weekend on DAZN. Describing it as a bucket list moment, McCann had the look of someone living and loving her life.
Boxing News said McCann was excellent on her DAZN debut. They are right. The trade paper also said she was a breath of fresh air. They were right again. She is. There is little doubt DAZN will have her back.
The road has been long, and McCann knows better than most that life never runs in straight lines. But she is getting there, it’s been hard, nothing given and everything has been earned.
With all she has been through in her life, you did worry for McCann at one time. But things have changed. We need worry no longer.
Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)