'Meatball' Molly McCann on heartbreaking loss and UFC London comeback

‘I thought I was done… I was f***ing raging’: Molly McCann opens up on emerging from the darkness of heartbreaking Erin Blanchfield loss… as ‘Meatball’ relishes UFC London return

  • Molly McCann was on a superb three-fight winning streak before tough defeat
  • She lost against Erin Blanchfield and admits she thought about quitting MMA
  • But McCann has regrouped and is ready to take UFC London by storm again 

Molly McCann describes the taste of her heartbreaking defeat last year as like having ‘acid’ in her mouth. 

But on July 22, that bitter flavour could make way for something far more palatable. It has taken months of soul-searching and ‘grieving’ for ‘Meatball’ to recover mentally from her first-round defeat by Erin Blanchfield, but now she’s ready to take centre stage at London’s O2 Arena once more. 

On the menu, is Julija Stoliarenko, and McCann has opened up about how she dug in to rally herself back into a mental state capable of fighting again. 

‘The loss in general is just the toughest moment of my athletic career and it wasn’t one I’d ever want anyone to go through, it would probably feel like losing a world title I’d imagine,’ she explained. 

‘It was just my dream, a life’s ambition to fight at MSG and I only get a few minutes, one punch in. It probably felt a bit like Darren Till against Tyron Woodley but obviously mine wasn’t for the belt. To fight in MSG and to lose just wasn’t in the script.

Molly McCann (bottom) took her time to recover mentally from her crushing loss against Erin Blanchfield (top) by submission in New York last November

McCann admits that at one point she even thought about giving up MMA  

‘I thought I was done, because I was that wounded. I thought, “I gave three or four months of my life for that and didn’t get past three minutes”. I was f***ing raging and I just wondered if I could give that much. It was more than I’ve ever given. I invested so heavily in my training partners and my preparation. 

She added: ‘Nothing went wrong in the camp, everything was meticulous and the fight then f****d up. I’ve had other camps where I’m being held together by string but then go and get these unreal finishes. It took until February to want to fight again. 

‘Losing was like the taste of acid in my mouth, I had to learn to let it go and I’ve had viral moments in my life that were f***ing unreal and then I became a viral moment. 

‘You have got to grieve, it is like grieving a loss. It’s not even that I was being a big baby, I give my life to this, every interview, training, interaction I give everything. DC said when he lost to Jones he had to let it burn. I had to be ok with being Molly McCann and not ‘Meatball’.’

It took some words of encouragement in a bar on holiday for the fan favourite to start to feel like herself again. 

‘I went to Tenerife with my coach for a couple of weeks just to be a normal human,’ she said. 

‘It was probably the worst place to go to escape because it’s like little Liverpool! It’s full of Irish and Scousers. Talking to people in a bar in Tenerife, they just helped me believe in myself again, I went to watch the Old Firm game and I was like, “Oh yeah, I’m still someone”, just in the sense of being a good person because the internet can rip that from you I think. It wasn’t an easy task to get back but I dug in.’

‘Meatball’ earned two incredible KO wins in London and is returning on July 22  

McCann knocked out Luana Carolina back in March last year with a ferocious elbow 

McCann, 33, is facing Stoliarenko in the same venue she delivered two incredible knockouts with deadly elbows last year. 

The O2 Arena is a happy hunting ground for her and can be an intimidating bear pit for opposing fighters in enemy territory. 

With Tom Aspinall headlining against Marcin Tybura and another packed house expected, McCann is relishing the chance to bounce back on home turf. 

‘There’s one things that the fans can rely on with me, and it’s that I’ll go down swinging, giving everything I can to win,’ she said. 

‘I love feeling the heat of the people, this atmosphere, it’s different when I walk out at the O2 compared to other fighters. It’s a bit of a party and I rely on them in a nice way to push me through.’

Jai Herbert, Paul Craig, Lerone Murphy and Nathaniel Wood are among the other Brits confirmed to be in action so far, with more set to be added in the weeks ahead. 

McCann’s partner in crime, Paddy Pimblett, will not be competing as he’s still recovering from his horror ankle injury. 

McCann shared the stage with Paddy Pimblett twice in London last year but ‘The Baddy’ is out injured and will miss the event on July 22 

But ‘Meatball’ revealed that he is progressing well and desperate to shut up the naysayers who were critical of his last fight, a win against Jared Gordon many felt should have gone the other way.       

‘Paddy had his protective boot off, he’s been coming to S&C, he’s just hungry. His performance against Gordon wasn’t what he wanted it to be, he wants to just prove who he is. 

‘He’d had a sore foot going into it but none of us realised how bad the injury was until after the fight. He’s had a full ankle reconstruction of his ligaments so that’s heavy. 

‘I think it’s a couple more weeks until he can to weight bearing stuff. You can imagine after a fight you win and then there being big scrutiny on the fight… Paddy lives to silence people, I believe you’ll see a different animal in him when he next fights.’

UFC FIGHT NIGHT: ASPINALL vs. TYBURA tickets go on sale from 10:00a.m BST on Friday, May 26 via AXS and Ticketmaster

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