Liverpool’s Molly McCann ready to show her adaptability at UFC’s ‘Fight Island’

Molly McCann knows all about taking on Brazilian fighters but the Liverpool flyweight is planning to demonstrate something new against Taila Santos at the UFC’s ‘Fight Island’ this week.

In her 12 mixed martial contests, McCann, the first English woman to win in the UFC, has come up against four Brazilians and Santos at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island in the early hours of Thursday morning will be number five.

Past experience, plus Santos’ 10 knockout wins from her 15-1 record, has given McCann an insight into what to expect, but the 30-year-old is eager to show off her adaptability as she looks to improve her MMA ledger to 11-2.

“The UFC likes me and Brazilians because it’s like getting two Mexican boxers going to war, we’re not going to step back,” McCann told the PA news agency.

“She fights that way and I fight that way. But I’ve got a whole new fighting style for this fight, it’s been so hard not to put pad work or grappling online because I’m just bringing a whole different me.

“It’s a different form of self-expression and just a different style that I think negates hers very well.”

McCann was supposed to face Ashlee Evans-Smith on March 21 at London’s O2 Arena but the event became the first in the UFC to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

She has kept busy during the UK’s lockdown – launching her own podcast and YouTube channel as well bringing out her own coffee brand – but her training regime in anticipation of stepping back into the octagon has been prioritised.

The UFC was the first sport in the United States to restart amid the public health crisis and ‘Fight Island’ was conceived as a means of allowing international fighters to compete, with four shows in the emirate this month.

This will be the second event following on from UFC 251 at the weekend, and McCann is ready to unleash months of pent-up frustration on Santos after admitting to growing increasingly tetchy in recent weeks.

“I was supposed to fight in March and I signed that contract on December 4 last year so this will be seven months that I’ve literally been going out of my mind and making sacrifices,” McCann said.

“I have been conditioned to fight in a fight camp since December, so my mindset is starting to change now.

“When I’m talking to people they can see I’m starting to get… I would’t say rude but a bit shorter, a bit more to the point, not as bubbly. I’m just so ready to go. I am chomping at the bit to punch this Brazilian’s head in.”

Molly McCann, left, lost on her UFC debut but has rebounded with three successive wins (Martin Rickett/PA)
Molly McCann, left, lost on her UFC debut but has rebounded with three successive wins (Martin Rickett/PA)

McCann, who along with every fighter and their coaching teams has been tested a number of times for Covid-19, is ranked 15th in the UFC’s 125lb division and a fourth successive win could elevate her two or three places.

But having lost her UFC opener after being choked out by Gillian Robertson two years ago, McCann’s three successive victories since then have taught her not to look too far ahead.

“I used to (call people out) and then I got put to sleep. I got humbled,” McCann added.

“Be careful what you wish for because if I start calling people out and they beat me I’m just going to look like a mug. I just fight who I fight and get in there and do the job.”

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