Molly McCann is the first person to admit that she takes losses badly.
2018 was a big year for “Meatball” as she claimed the Cage Warriors flyweight title, which eventually secured her a UFC deal. Things only picked up for the Next Generation fighter when she was slated for a debut in her hometown in the same arena that she claimed the flyweight strap. However, a second-round loss to Gillian Robertson did not fit in with the fairytale entrance onto the world’s biggest MMA stage that U.K. fans had envisaged for her.
McCann has been booked for her sophomore trip to the Octagon at UFC London in March, but she has no hesitation in revealing that the road from her debut to her second UFC outing was a very challenging one.
“Obviously, my last fight didn’t go to plan, I’ve never been finished before and the only other loss on my record was a very controversial one; it wasn’t really a loss,” McCann explained on the latest episode of Eurobash. “To have actually been finished in Liverpool, in my hometown, in the same place that I had come through the ranks from amateur to pro to world champion…mate, it was sore.”
Without a target to work towards, McCann struggled with anxiety in the wake of the Liverpool defeat, which affected relationships with her loved ones.
“I didn’t know when I was going to compete again. I’ve always had a goal and I’ve always known time scales. It’s the first time that I was totally out of control of my future,” she a said.
“Anxiety has been really rife. I wouldn’t say it went as far as depression, but I had shaky legs and [there was a lot of] panic. I was not being able to get passed that. Honest to God, it’s took its toll on every relationship that I have in my life but I generally believe that nothing is going to come between me and my destiny. I’m the master of my own fate, so if I keep feeding the anxiety it’s going to beat me.”
The UFC told McCann in no uncertain terms that another loss like the one she suffered to Robertson would result in her marching orders. Due to the focus she put on jiu-jitsu since her debut, she is confident that she’s evolved her grappling game significantly ahead of her meeting with Priscila Cachoeira.
“It’s been eight months and I’m just so happy that it’s game time. All the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears that I’ve had over the last number of months has all been waiting on this. Now, it’s go time. I thought, ‘I can’t ever feel like that again, how I felt after that fight’. I was a broken little Meatball. So I said, ‘What do I do?’ and Paul Rimmer said to me, ‘You’re not fighting again until you’re subbing black belts and you’re not getting subbed by black belts. I just trusted the process,” said McCann.
“I don’t know if I should say too much about this or not, but I will…[the UFC] basically said, ‘If you get subbed again like that you’re out; we’re not using you’. It’s that cut throat. It’s not a scare tactic, but it’s like, ‘Molly, step your f*cking game up, you’re better than you were in your last fight.’ I thought, ‘You know what, it has to be that way’. I went away, competed in a few comps. I’ve not been submitted, I’ve not really had points scored against me and I’m finishing them.”
The Liverpudlian flyweight felt as though she had overcome her struggle when she was awarded her purple belt towards the end of 2018.
“Last year finished with me getting my purple belt because I subbed a black belt on the grading night. From the roughness of the loss there was so much progression and personal growth. Some people take a loss quite well, but not me, I was like a demon possessed. My friendships suffered, my relationships suffered and time with my family suffered because I was like, ‘This is not happening again.’ It was only at Christmas after I got my purple belt where I felt like it had all been worth it. I’ve left all that negativity in last year and I’m back to who I was before I got my shine dimmed.”
“The day I got my purple belt I rang my mum crying saying, ‘It’s gone, the anxiety is gone,’ and every day it’s getting a little bit less and less and now I’ve got this focus,” she added. “It was really tough for me to talk about because I was only really honest with my friends and my girlfriend just before Christmas, about what level it had got to. I’m Molly, I’m supposed to be the strongest girl there’s ever been and I’ve come through so much adversity. Nothing has gone wrong in my life, but I was struggling with this demon.
“I’ve got to overcome this adversity and just show that nothing will stop me from reaching where I need to reach. My will to win, succeed and to be the best me will always outgrow and beat the demons. I said to my mum, ‘This is really being an adult, being able to deal with this in the right way,’ because five or six years ago, when I was a lot younger, I probably would’ve just gone down to the pub and got wrecked or just said f*ck that.”
It hasn’t been easy, but McCann feels like she’s on the other side of the loss now and believes it will be remembered as the turning point of her young career.
“Now, I don’t drink, I’m eating well and I’m getting on that f*cking mat everyday and I’m handling it. And I’m such a better person for it. If I hadn’t have gone through those tough times it would’ve meant that the UFC didn’t mean what I thought it meant to me. It shows me what my dreams mean to me,” McCann said.
“This is the cost of ambition. If you want to be in that one percent, most people aren’t willing to go through this and to face this. Where does my story end—one loss and then goodbye? No, the loss defines my comeback.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Molly McCann interview beings at 20:25.