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All fighters have different takes on the type of training they’ve done, or had to do, during these troubling times.
Some lament the decreased number of training partners or reduced access to gyms, while others appreciate the close, individual attention they’ve received as a result.
For Liverpool’s Molly McCann, the restrictions have paradoxically given her more freedom. With less access to her usual coaching, she had to take her training under her own watch. As a result, she’s felt that she’s been able to return to what makes her effective and what got her to the UFC in the first place.
“In lockdown I was able to go back to what made me me and that was running, that was hitting a bag, that was being a boxer,” McCann shared. “Fight camp is six weeks and in that time, I wasn’t critiqued everyday like I am normally.”
The lack of criticism and nitpicking has allowed her to revisit the artist part of being a martial artist. The creativity returned and did so in a way that allowed her to get back to enjoying herself.
“It was like, just go and express yourself and I got to flow more,” she said. “I just enjoyed this camp so much because of the new norm - and I like the new norm.”
Although she enjoys her job, she admits she had gotten away from what she enjoyed so much about it. This fact she blames on a loss in her UFC debut to Gillian Robertson - a loss that made her change how she fundamentally looks at what she does.
“I think when I lost, I totally changed the way that I handled myself and it was very much like work,” she admits. “It was like going nine-to-five into the job, and this fight camp instead has been fun.”
While she’s having far more fun than she has at any point in her UFC career, McCann doesn’t want you to confuse that with being lazy. In fact, her camp was neither lackadaisical or easy. The fun instead comes from that hard work and the way she was able to devote herself to it.
“Don’t get me wrong, the rounds were hard and I’ve cried, and it’s been hard, but frankly you need that creative angle sometimes, and this camp I was able to draw from a more creative standpoint,” McCann said. “Maybe that’s because I am on a three-fight win streak and I know the level that I’m competing at, so I can be a bit more relaxed and not just have such a mental strain on my all the time thinking ‘oh I can’t do that’ or ‘it’s got to be like that’. Now I am just focused.”
Having more fun, being more relaxed - we can certainly expect a better Molly McCann when she steps into the cage on Tuesday against Taila Santos. Despite McCann’s three-fight win streak, it’s worth noting that Santos is 0-1 in the UFC and not really the step up that you might expect for McCann. However, that doesn’t mean this more loose McCann is overlooking her opponent.
“I genuinely believe that when you’re in the UFC, there is no easy fight, and I always count myself as the underdog,” she said. “An opponent with a number next to their name doesn’t mean anything to me because unless it’s Shevchenko, it doesn’t matter.”