LONDON – Molly McCann tries not to get wrapped up in the moment. The keyword there is “tries.”
The last time, McCann (11-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC) admits she was entrenched in all of the emotions that come with a hometown fight – and it didn’t end well for her. But now, McCann enters her UFC Fight Night 204 bout against Luana Carolina (8-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) mentally evolved. She can view the specialness of the moment without it engulfing her.
“I don’t try to get lost in it,” McCann told reporters including MMA Junkie at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “Because when I have, you look at UFC Liverpool. It didn’t end too well, did it? … I’ve learned, ‘Keep your f*cking head down. Go get the job done and then get on the ale for three months.’ Yeah, I’m just here to do my job and enjoy myself. I’m not putting pressure on myself anymore.”
What McCann appreciates the most about the UFC’s long-awaited return to the United Kingdom is what it represents for the region as a whole. It’s the promotion’s first event in the region since March 2019. The next wave of talent, names like Paddy Pimblett, Tom Aspinall, and Cory McKenna are on the card. Their presence has McCann feeling a tad nostalgic.
“In the lockdown, I’d go on fan forums and watch the UFC’s with the fans on Zoom,” McCann said. “We were always talking about this moment and this day and what we’re about to receive. I would say 2013, I think we’ve been fighting together, predominantly most of us. I just saw little Cory McKenna out there. In 2014, I had sparring rounds with her when she was 15. She was an amateur. It’s just so mad to see how far that we’ve all come and that we’re here and that we’ve paid our dues. We really deserve it.
“The grappling, the conditioning, the now-level of athlete that we are as Europe and as Great Britain, we are matching and are better in certain areas than some Americans. I don’t really want to say that, but I have to. Sorry, lads. … I really think the whole camp and the posts that I’ve put online, it’s been about what the fans deserve. The fans deserve this moment. The media deserves this moment. You deserve to watch and to feel poetry in motion, what we’re all going to give yas.”
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The United Kingdom is represented up and down the card, but as for the individual task in front of her, McCann feels primed and ready to go. In May 2018, McCann was submitted by Gillian Robertson in front of a Liverpool home crowd. She doesn’t want history to repeat itself – and by her estimation, has taken the necessary steps to prevent that.
“I have to work on myself every single day to be who I am,” McCann said. “I don’t wake up like (Paddy Pimblett) and just know. I’ve suffered real, horrific losses in this game. I have to work on myself and I have to reaffirm. It’s just affirmations for me. Then, when I affirm who I am, then I go to train, the training is what makes me think, ‘F*cking hell. Yeah, you are all right.’ I’m always cautious.
“I’m never overzealous and I’m never overconfident. As long as I always bring that, I know I’m not setting myself up to fail. I can joke with everyone in here and kind of have a laugh when we training. Not in the session, but pre and post, we have a laugh. You watch me or anyone in our gym when it’s hitting the pads, taking down, submissions, and ground-and-pound. It’s 100 percent go-time. I focus a little bit more on being… a little bit more rough around the edges and not as polished off is what I’ve become.”
UFC Fight Night 204 takes place Saturday at 02 Arena and streams on ESPN+. Check out McCann’s full pre-fight news conference in the video above.
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