UFC 281 brings with it the return of Liverpool’s Molly McCann, fighting without Paddy Pimblett by her side for a change.
Pimblett will fight later this year in Las Vegas, but for McCann (13-4), she plans to “bring some European vibe to MSG” in New York City this weekend. “I was here when Katie Taylor fought Amanda Serrano, and if any of you guys was there then, you’ll know that the atmosphere was special. And I think it should be the same on Saturday night.”
That said, “I don’t feel any pressure of where we are,” McCann added, speaking during this week’s UFC 281 media day. “It’ll always be the pressure of the fight. The same as every fight’s the same, you get them little butterflies, you get them moments out. I feel like with every fight recently, I’m getting a bit more professional, I’m getting more well-versed of how to handle the adversities before you get in, and while stood in there.”
McCann shot to stardom in the past year, care of a pair of standout performances at the O2 Arena in London, England. If the flyweight was a budding star before, two Performance of the Night-winning elbow finishes pushed her to the next level.
That elevated status hasn’t come without its pitfalls.
“You’re not normal anymore. I can’t just walk little Frank and Patty down the street anymore. I can’t just go to football,” McCann observed. “So what I’ve had to do is grieve private life, because my life’s not private anymore. That’s something not everyone would have to deal with I don’t think. When we start fighting, I think we start to just win a belt. We don’t start for fame, we don’t really start for the money. It’s about the prestige and the honor of winning that belt.”
McCann knows she’s fortunate that people want to know more about her, “but sometimes it weighed heavy, but I just learned how to handle it now.” Part of that is learning boundaries, she noted, and occasionally saying ‘No.’ “I never want to not give everyone every bit of time that I’ve got. And I want to make everyone feel special, but when you’ve got hundreds of people a day, that can drain your energy.”
None other than fellow UFC star Conor McGregor gave McCann some advice on how to handle her newfound fame.
“He did, yeah,” McCann revealed this week. “I messaged him, we spoke a few times, went and had a bevvy in the Black Forge. I message him saying ‘how do you handle this?’ Because you can blow up, and then you can blow up, and I couldn’t quite get my head around how sometimes people are with you. And he was just like ‘when you’re in the gym, it’s just the gym, don’t let no one else in, keep everyone outside. Always remember, it’s just fighting. You’re a Cage Warrior, that’s what we are, we’re Cage Warriors champions.’ He said some mad things about Valentina [Shevchenko]’s ‘gonna get a Mac smack,’ it was so poetic and so lovely.”
So lovely, in fact, that McCann’s partner printed off the quote and “put it in a sign” so McCann can see it when she needs a reminder, whether she’s struggling or feeling good. “But I don’t mean to get ahead of myself, get a big fat head and walk around with an ego. It’s [better] to stay grounded and realize that I’m here to win, and the rest of it, the external factors mean f*ck all.”
Molly McCann faces Erin Blanchfield at UFC 281 in New York, NY on Saturday, November 12, 2022.