- The Las Vegas fighting experience remains massive for fighters like Molly McCann.
- The former Cage Warriors flyweight champion signed with the UFC in 2018.
- She has big wins on her record, but lost her last two. She’s looking to rebound in style on Saturday.
The Las Vegas fighting experience remains massive for UFC competitor Molly McCann, who returns to the Octagon for a Saturday showdown against flyweight opponent Ji Yeon Kim.
McCann, a former Cage Warriors champion, joined the premier MMA firm in 2018, lost her debut to Gillian Robertson, but rebounded with a hat trick of wins that included a victory over Ariane Lipski.
The 31-year-old Englishwoman is currently looking to buck a two-fight losing skid, having dropped decisions to Talia Santos on Fight Island in 2020, and Lara Procopio earlier this year in Vegas.
Returning to the fighting capital of the world is huge, McCann told Insider this week.
“But it doesn’t feel like Las Vegas,” she said, noting a British invasion due to the amount of UK competitors at the show. “It feels like home.”
“The first time we came to Vegas, we were like, ‘Oh my God, we’re at the Performance Institute (PI).’ Now, it’s like, ‘What’s happening, team?!’ And it feels lovely.”
The experience was more mindblowing in February, McCann said, when she traveled to fight in Vegas for the first time.
From the McCarran International Airport, which is a short taxi ride to the Strip, McCann saw the lights, the neon, and the iconic cityscape that featured some of the most famous resorts in the country — like the Bellagio, MGM Grand, and New York-New York.
She stayed at the Excalibur, and though she’d been traveling for 26 hours, she walked with her team to the Bellagio to see the iconic fountains, and look up at Caesar’s Palace.
“I said to the lads, ‘Think of how many greats have fought here, and we stayed up to watch them Now we’re doing the same thing.’ It’s mad to feel like you’re a part of history,” she said.
The greats that immediately spring to mind for McCann are the popular European prizefighters who seemed to take armies of fans to Vegas.
“I always think about [Conor] McGregor vs. [Chad] Mendes. That’s always the first one that comes to mind. Especially because he did it, the pressure, there was so much riding on it,” she said.
“In boxing fights, you always think of Ricky Hatton — and how he brought all the fans with him, every single time.”
McCann’s eyes now are firmly on Saturday’s fight, rather than the city’s lights
Though McCann has suffered back-to-back losses in the last 14 months, she said she takes positives from the fact she was never finished in either bout, and had she fought Procopio — a jiu jitsu black belt — earlier in her career, she may have been submitted rather than out-pointed.
This shows, McCann said, that she’s continually improving her skills as a well-rounded mixed martial artist. She added that she’s been receiving the best coaching of her career, and that her fighting IQ has never been higher.
McCann has already been face to face with her opponent Ji Yeon Kim. It was a chance meeting at the UFC’s state-of-the-art PI.
“I came down from the lift, and as the doors opened she was standing right there,” McCann said, adding that she waved elaborately, said hello, but was effectively ignored by Kim.
“It’s too early to get a sense of how a person’s feeling. But as she lost her last fight, she moved all the way to Las Vegas to make her dream a reality, and I know she’s going to bring everything she’s got.
“She’s a big girl, and she looks like she has a lot of weight to cut. There’s a few advantages and disadvantages to that.
“Ultimately, it’s going to be about who implements their game plan the fastest, and sticks to it.”
McCann continued of Kim: “She’s moved to a new gym, they may make her style a little bit different. And come the second round, if I’ve got it on her the way that we intend to, I predict she’ll probably go back to the old ways, because it’s what you do when Plan A is not going right.”
In that best-case scenario for McCann, it is a golden opportunity to etch her own history into the rich Vegas fighting culture she grew up watching.