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Molly McCann encourages women to get into combat sports: ‘It will change your life forever’

It’s only taken two years in the UFC for Molly McCann to emerge as a flyweight contender, but her involvement in martial arts was paying dividends long before she joined the roster.

A professional fighter since 2015, McCann currently sits at No. 14 in the UFC’s official flyweight rankings on the strength of three straight victories after faltering in her UFC debut. The 29-year-old is also a former Cage Warriors champion and she currently holds a 10-2 record.

Appearing on The A-Side live chat on Wednesday, McCann explained how difficult it can be for women to get involved in martial arts and how rewarding it can be when one takes the leap.

“I think, entering martial arts as a female is probably one of the hardest things in the world to do because it’s just seen as just a man’s thing,” McCann said. “I only did it because I was told I wasn’t allowed to. I was just like, ‘You’re not gonna tell me me no.’ But now it’s at an age where everything is a lot more easier and a lot more equal, and I think you’ve only got to get your foot through the door and then it will change your life forever.

“It’s about growth and not being in your comfort zone. The whole time you’ll be doing MMA you’re not gonna be in your comfort zone, but it’s nice and it’ll change your life for the better.”

Asked if there’s been a big influx of females at the Next Generation MMA gym in Liverpool where she trains, McCann said she did notice an increased interest in MMA following her Cage Warriors debut three years ago. Facing the far-more experienced Lacey Schuckman at Cage Warriors 82, McCann took a unanimous decision.

The circumstances under which she competed were not easy.

“I put on the fight of me life,” McCann said. “I’d lost my cousin in a car accident, he was one of me best mates, he was only 26, and then the funeral was the night of the weigh-in and I couldn’t go to the funeral so it was like, the whole family was behind me for this fight. It was so much pressure and it was, like, 7,000 people there, and it was the scariest thing. … I was like, 4-1, and I just thought, ‘F*ck this, let’s go for it.’ And I went for it.

“Liverpool didn’t know who I was before that fight, but after it they f*ckin’ did. Everyone’s little girl started coming and doing Paddy [Pimblett’s] classes.”

McCann pointed more to her accessibility than her growing profile in the business as a reason for why she’s found herself working with more women. “Meatball” has made an effort to remove any barriers between herself and aspiring martial artists who are just looking for a place where they can be comfortable training and competing.

“I think I’m personable to any female who’s comin’ up, I think that that helps a lot,” McCann said. “There’s a lot of female athletes or female fighters, but I don’t see them trying to do much for anyone other than themselves. … At our gym, we’ve got our women’s team now in jiu-jitsu and we’ve got a good MMA team now, it’s about five of us.”

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