Thomas Lakes, MMA Fighting

Molly McCann believes she’s turned a corner in her UFC career and it’s upwards and onwards from here.

This weekend, McCann will make history as the first British woman to fight on a UFC main card in England when she takes on Luana Carolina in a feature flyweight bout at UFC London. It will be McCann’s first time fighting on British soil in nearly four years, and while it’s not as good as fighting in Liverpool would be, “Meatball” couldn’t be happier about it.

“I just feel at peace and content,” McCann told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I’ve finally gotten to that place again where I’m excited to fight and I don’t fear the walk or the occasion. I’m home. Well, London’s not home, but we’re in England, so it’s very, very nice to be able to say that, and not have to travel to America or to fight in Ireland. Not that I don’t like fighting in those places, but it makes the preparation a lot easier.

“Don’t get me wrong, the whole camp I always battle with my feelings towards the fight, but after the last fight, with [teammate Paddy Pimblett also on the card], it just felt like we were back at home, and this time feels the same. I just feel like I’ve arrived. I’m meant to be here and it doesn’t feel as scary anymore. It feels like I’m supposed to be here. I feel like I’m a part of the furniture now.”

Entering the UFC in 2018 fresh off winning the Cage Warriors flyweight title, McCann came with a large following and big expectations, but she’s had an up-and-down run thus far. Losing her debut fight to Gillian Robertson, McCann won three in a row before lose a pair of bouts to drop down to 3-3 in the organization. However, McCann was able to right the ship her last time out, taking a unanimous decision over Ji Yeon Kim in September, and now McCann believes she has achieved a level of inner peace which is going to help her build on that win.

“This is my eighth fight in the UFC,” McCann said. “Sometimes you just have to remember who you are in everyday life, also. Sometimes you might get that little bit of imposter syndrome, and I think it’s just important that sometimes I have to sit back and look at all the training sessions I’ve done, how hard I’ve worked, and I’m like, ‘Why do I worry about getting in there? I’m just going to do what I’m the best at.’ So the hard work’s been done and I’m just enjoying every single bit of fight week.

“It’s the O2. It’s London. It’s full. We’re finally getting the Patrick Pimblett walkout that the U.K. fans have been waiting for all these years. I’m here. We’re all here. It’s just — I just can’t believe it. I’m not being overzealous, I’m not being arrogant, I’m not being cocky, I’m not even being overconfident, I’m just here, enjoying my time, knowing how hard I’ve worked for this moment and how much I’m just gonna enjoy this moment. I’ve never had such clarity before and I think it comes down to the experience, the time served in the octagon, and being at peace with myself a little bit and at peace with the fact that I’m very comfortable with fight I.Q., and fight awareness, and what I know I can bring when I have 18,000 people screaming ‘Meatball.’”

Another factor adding to McCann’s peace of mind heading into this bout is greater financial stability. McCann earned a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus for her most recent bout against Ji Yeon Kim this past September, and as she approaches her bout this weekend, “Meatball” admits that the extra money has removed some of the pre-fight worry about winning.

“Three years ago I was fighting for 10 and 10 [$10,000 to show, $10,000 to win] and when you pay tax and pay everyone out, there’s not a lot there so you still have to worry about sponsorship and things,” McCann said. “I’m not ballin’, at all, by any means, but I’m settled in the fact that the bonus from the last fight will carry me through this year to this fight. So I don’t have to worry about, ‘What happens if I lose and then I haven’t got that money?’ These are kinds of things maybe fans would never think because you see us on the TV and you see us very active and about and you think, ‘They must be rolling in it,’ but you know that’s not the truth.”

McCann is hoping to change that soon though. Fresh off her bonus-winning performance, McCann is hoping to improve upon her success this weekend by getting her first stoppage victory inside the UFC. And once she does that, McCann believes that things are going to improve rapidly.

“The UFC were very complimentary with the contract I was given and I know if I get a few more finishes, or if I finally get this first finish in the UFC this weekend, I can imagine the next contract will be a nice lucrative one,” McCann said. “I’m just really happy. The company treats me really well and respects me and gives me a good platform to be me.”

UFC London takes place this Saturday at the O2 Arena.

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