Molly & Paddy: Born For The Big Show

Molly & Paddy: Born For The Big Show

Their respective journeys may differ in the finer detail, but the overall narrative is exactly the same. Molly McCann and Paddy Pimblett are cut from the same fighting cloth that defines their city. Both have overcome much adversity before reaching the big show. The road to the promised land of the UFC has been more than rocky, for McCann, just staying there has at times, been more than a story in itself. But she is still in the UFC for a reason. She deserves to be.

They share many things in their lives, and this Saturday when the UFC finally hits the big smoke again, McCann and Pimblett will once again share the same stage. The Liverpool pair hit Vegas last year, the subdued setting of the Apex was lit up as McCann and Pimblett gave us plenty on a night where both made their points.

It was about survival for McCann. A two-fight losing streak, with one fight left on her UFC contract, it was go big or go home. McCann was born for nights like that. One of life’s great survivors, ‘Meatball’ was unlikely to be found wanting.

In many ways, McCann went back to her roots. Ji Yeon Kim was in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was something beautiful in the brutality of what McCann unleashed on her opponent. You knew what was at stake, you knew what it meant. Everything. You just sensed on that night, McCann would not be denied. Now armed with a brand new UFC contract, the story continues. Make no mistake, going forward McCann is not here to just survive. She wants more.

There is something about McCann that pulls you in. You get emotionally invested in her story and in McCann as a person. She gives you everything, wears her heart on her sleeve, in every interview she gives you a little piece of her. McCann has a very rare quality.

Pimblett, from very early on always had the look of a fighter who had star quality. But from when he would land in the UFC it was looking like being a story of what could have been. Periods of indiscipline and injuries held Pimblett back. But the wait is over, the innocence and naivety of his youth is gone. Pimblett is planning on making up for lost time.

I always remember Pimblett telling me about how shy and quiet he was in his formative years and thinking where the hell did that guy go. Thy shyness has now been replaced by the brash and outspoken persona he carries so naturally and brilliantly. He talks of selling out his beloved Anfield. Pimblett has a way of convincing you in what he says.

Pimblett is aiming for the stars, the delay in getting to the UFC will be beneficial to his desire to go above and beyond just being part of the roster. Already in Fight Week, we have seen punches thrown and avoided and bottles of hand sanitiser flying around. Pimblett makes friends and enemies in equal measure. But either way, people will watch, and on mass.

Both McCann and Pimblett have matured and evolved in many ways. There are many layers attached to both. They have each opened up about their battles with mental health. Because of their words, others will find it easier to find the words they need.

McCann and Pimblett are both socially aware. McCann is switched on, and more aware of the struggles working-class people are currently facing far more than the shameless and shambolic government of the day. Citing food banks and poverty, McCann is proud of her socialist roots and epitomises her city. Liverpool remembers what another Tory government tried to do to their city. A deliberately managed decline to punish was always going to fail. Even Thatcher couldn’t submit the heart and life out of Liverpool.

The next chapters will be written on Saturday night. Rodrigo Vargas and Luana Carolina will look to spoil the party, the odds indicate both deserve respect and focus. But there is a feeling there is gathering momentum around McCann and Pimblett.

Pimblett will look to build on his UFC debut last September. He survived an early chin check, to stop Luigi Vendramini and cut a patented promo that blew his name up to the masses. People accuse him of being a copycat Conor McGregor. He is anything but. But the cage resume will determine how bright the star shows. The UFC will know what they might have. Pimblett will be given every opportunity to realise his ambitions.

McCann lost momentum during the pandemic. More a victim of circumstances, McCann was only a fight or two away from challenging for the UFC title. People forget that. She will look to get back what was lost when UFC London was cancelled two years ago. McCann still has UFC gold in her sights.

Brother and big sister are both in a good place and have the perfect stage for what comes next. Neither will get lost in a sea of excess, both are grounded enough to know the work never stops. There is no script with either, what you get you know comes from the heart. And that is part of their appeal. And part of their success.

The UFC will come back to Liverpool in the coming months. McCann lost her UFC debut there, she will look for redemption next time. Pimblett missed out last time, he will now look to headline.

But there is business to attend to in London on Saturday night. Both are on the main card, where they should be. It promises to be some night. Some party.

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