The Game Changers

Molly McCann: How adversity drives success

July 11, 2023 Sue Anstiss Season 14 Episode 7
Molly McCann: How adversity drives success
The Game Changers
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The Game Changers
Molly McCann: How adversity drives success
Jul 11, 2023 Season 14 Episode 7
Sue Anstiss

Molly McCann, also known as Meatball Molly, is a mixed martial artist, formerly a Cage Fighters champion, who is currently competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

In this very open interview, Molly takes us back to her life growing up in Liverpool, surrounded by alcohol and addiction, and the childhood experiences that led her to follow a different path and become a world famous MMA fighter. 

We explore what it’s like to lose your privacy and how Molly now deals with the negativity and trolling that arise from her growing profile. 

Molly is a cousin of Katie Taylor and we discuss the huge positive impact female fighters can have in society. 

Molly is already using her profile to drive social change, especially when it comes to providing opportunities for her home community, and there’s no doubt she’ll continue to have a huge impact as she considers a move into politics in the future.

Thank you to Sport England who support The Game Changers Podcast through a National Lottery grant.

Thank you to Sport England who support The Game Changers Podcast with a National Lottery award.

Find out more about The Game Changers podcast here:

Hosted by Sue Anstiss
Produced by Sam Walker, What Goes On Media

A Fearless Women production

Show Notes Transcript

Molly McCann, also known as Meatball Molly, is a mixed martial artist, formerly a Cage Fighters champion, who is currently competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

In this very open interview, Molly takes us back to her life growing up in Liverpool, surrounded by alcohol and addiction, and the childhood experiences that led her to follow a different path and become a world famous MMA fighter. 

We explore what it’s like to lose your privacy and how Molly now deals with the negativity and trolling that arise from her growing profile. 

Molly is a cousin of Katie Taylor and we discuss the huge positive impact female fighters can have in society. 

Molly is already using her profile to drive social change, especially when it comes to providing opportunities for her home community, and there’s no doubt she’ll continue to have a huge impact as she considers a move into politics in the future.

Thank you to Sport England who support The Game Changers Podcast through a National Lottery grant.

Thank you to Sport England who support The Game Changers Podcast with a National Lottery award.

Find out more about The Game Changers podcast here:

Hosted by Sue Anstiss
Produced by Sam Walker, What Goes On Media

A Fearless Women production

Sue Anstiss (01:43):

Meatball Molly, as she's known, fought for the MMA promotion Shakur, where she won the Flyweight championship and defended it. She also won the Cage Warriors Women's Flyweight Championship in 2018. Molly then signed with U ffc where she made a real name for herself in the Flyweight division with multiple finishes, including her two iconic spinning elbow knockouts in 2022, Molly was shortlisted for BT Sports Action Woman Awards, which is where we got to meet for the first time. Uh, so Molly, your next UFC fight is on July the 22nd at the oh two in London. How are you doing generally with preparations for that?

Molly McCann (02:25):

Well, if I have an autobiography, you are definitely gonna have to be the one who reads it on the audio book because your voice is amazing. Um, I'm taking it all in me stride. It's been, I feel like there's a few of us in the UFC who get, who have to push the media train because we have a bit of personality and, um, and I, that's me <laugh>, that's me. So I've just been away for a few days doing a lot of media. Um, but I suppose are the moments you probably prayed for when you was a little girl? Do you know when you was thinking, oh, I wanna be like that. You, you don't realise that side of the, of the coin and that side of the career and, and, and that's what you have to do. But you have to be good at selling the fight, promoting the fight, and um, and being skilled when you're in there.


So it's a big operation. It's a lot to do, but, um, it was really big for me I think the last two days just because I was the first m a fighter to be invited onto, um, morning radio nationwide. Um, I was on a few of the channels and none of the men or not, no other women have had that opportunity yet. So I um, I enjoyed that one. I've got a good, I've got a good face for raise you. So, um, <laugh>, yeah, really enjoyed that and I'm, I'm really chomping up the bit to get back out there. Um, as you know, I had a bit of a, a ruthless fight in November where it just did not go my way. So I am extremely motivated for, for July 22nd.

Sue Anstiss (04:08):

And how do you balance then that timing of all the major and those demands on your time with training as well too at the same time?

Molly McCann (04:16):

Um, for me, sorry, I just closed that window. It's, you learn, you've gotta learn how to do it. I feel like this is fight number 11 in the UFC for me and people never even get past four boats, do you know what I mean? So it's a lot of learning on the job and I used to give as much energy to the interviews as I would to training and then I realised you've got nothing left. You're running on fumes for your training. And what I've realised is you can put time and effort into your answers and, and creating the story and given lights and shade to it without completely empty and yourself of energy and awareness. And I really tried that. Like I was in on Tuesday, I sparred, then got a shower, then went to Manchester, done the work at ITV Media City or Media City and Rounds all of them, and b, BBC and then got to London, done bits in London and then I had about 12 hours of nonstop in London and then got the train home, got home for about quarter to 12 and then was up at seven back in the gym spar this morning and had really good rounds, which I'm surprising myself I suppose.


But as you get older, I think you just learn to, to manage your, your energy systems and know what to give to and what not to.

Sue Anstiss (05:41):

No, that's good. Well, I'm very grateful you're given us time here. It does feel like it's been, you know, quite a momentous few weeks in terms of just following you on social media, seeing all the places you are. Uh, you're obviously fighting back in the UK and you fought in some amazing venues around the world. So how different does that feel to you to be fighting back here?

Molly McCann (05:59):

Um, I love it. I think I fought in Vegas two or three times, Boston, New York, Liverpool, London, Brazil. I fought like in iconic venues for um, I fought in Manchester iconic venues, but the O two and and myself have got a really, like a love relationship. I, I've had three fights there, three big wins. I broke me orbital bone and won and nearly went blind. Became the first English woman to win in the ufc. And then the f the one after I got the first bit, it like, like spinning back album were woman's ever thrown and the fourth ever in combat history. And then I went back again in July and got exactly the same. And um, the fans get me and I get them when you go to a a UFC event from the first fighter to walk to the last fight, who fights? Um, everyone's given, everyone's given the best every time that they get in there. And um, when I go there and when I walk out the crowd and know I'm willing to leave me life in there if I have to. And I think they really appreciate that. So yeah, I'm not a boredom fighter. I might not always get the win, but I'm not a boredom fighter.

Sue Anstiss (07:17):

And obviously MMA has got a massive following, especially ufc, but many of our listeners might not be as familiar with the sport. So can you just give us a little bit of background to it and I guess the combination of different disciplines it brings in?

Molly McCann (07:29):

Yeah, I feel like um, it would've previously been a bit years and years ago people have had a negative notion towards what we do and I feel as if the UFC have really worked on making it an altogether sport. Like we are informed sport, so we get random drug tests all year round. Everyone gets drug tests at an event. Um, we have healthcare when we fight and they look after those after that. Um, in terms of the scoring system, for those who don't know, it's three, five minute rounds based on a ten eighth scoring system that bit the same as boxing. So damage and control will win you the fight. Um, so it means if you get taken down but do nothing with it and just lie on someone, but someone's on the floor elbow and the person on the top, the person on the bottom will probably win that time of the round, which people wouldn't expect.


Um, a title fight is five, five minute rounds. There's four Olympic disciplines in our, in our sport. Um, every year it grows in terms of the style of play. So it'd be like football, it'd be like tennis when you're going on different surfaces it'll be like indoor and outdoor and athletics. If, if you've got the wind or you haven't got the wind or it's a different track, the style that someone can, how do I put it say when I threw that elbow, everyone started throwing spinning attacks. So for them six months the style changed. Do you know what I mean? And um, it's a bit like football. Every couple of seasons, tech technical and tactical changes are implemented but you have to change on the spot. Like you have to be able to answer these questions and overcome these adversities in the blink of an ag one wrong step.


And you are finished do you mean? And it's up to the referees discretion when to step in. If you are in a position where you probably take three shots, possibly four shots and you don't defend yourself correctly or you look like you're a bit wobbly, the raffle caller, um, if you submit and tap the fights over, um, some people who a purists and like boxing don't like how the fight can play out. Um, whereas an MMA fighter would say, well we don't take as much head damage and trauma as you guys. Um, and we are fighting the best every day. Whereas some what boxers can kind of fight journeyman to get to the top and things like amateur, boxing's probably a lot more competitive than professional. But when you are flawed in box into a headshot, you concuss and then you get up and you've gotta con continue to fight and maybe repeatedly take concussion. Whereas an MMA normally if you get dropped that's like, that's it and there's a lot less. Um, I think we've had one deaf in the hole of MMA in the cage and that was due to them making weight, um, like not correctly. It wasn't due to to fighting, do you know what I mean? So, um, yeah, it's a lot safer than people probably take

Sue Anstiss (10:46):

Thank. Yeah, yeah. And you've said it's that maximum, so multiple of disciplines coming together. So in terms of your skillset, I guess what you great at and do you work on what you're great to make that even better? Or do you need to be fairly good at everything? Very good at everything, clearly not fairly good.

Molly McCann (11:03):

Um, I feel everyone normally has an outstanding, um, is that a fire alarm?

Sue Anstiss (11:10):

Yeah, it was. I might d if it's mine or yours. It could be. I've got three girls downstairs, it could be downstairs.

Molly McCann (11:15):

Um, <laugh>, you're not going, the house is going on fire <laugh>.

Sue Anstiss (11:19):

I'm I bloody hope not. No,

Molly McCann (11:23):

You'll always have someone who tends to be a killer at being an offensive striker or a counters striker or an offensive wrestler or a defensive wrestler or grapple I should just say. Um, wrestling grappling be striking if you don't get the punching first and striking beats grappling if you can implement your distancing and strike him first. So it's always really even, but sometimes you get a bit of a stalemate when you get two grapplers who go together, they think that they're strikers and then you get two strikers who go together and they think, oh wow, I'll grapple the other one. Do you know what I mean? My strengths lay within my ability to push through pain barriers, forward pressure and vocabulary of striking. I tend, I'm the smallest person in my division with the shortest reach in probably the whole of the ufc. So some people who watch think, oh my god, all she does is come forward, but if I don't press them to the back forth and out-maneuver them that way, then they'll keep me on the end of their, kicks their punches and they will, I won't be able to get past it.


You know what I mean? So I have to be completely ruthless in my pursuit of a win. Um, and probably to be honest, the training's a lot more harder for me to get the win cause I have to be on that treadmill on them, put on them pads and them spiralling rounds to make sure that I'm completely ready. See what I mean?

Sue Anstiss (13:06):

Absolutely. And if I could take you back to your kind of earlier memories, what are your your young memories of of taking part in sport?

Molly McCann (13:14):

Not great, if I'm being honest. I think it's well documented. I was never allowed into boxing gyms as a kid. I'm 33 now. We're going back 20 years, 21 years just wasn't the done thing. Women, there's a, a famous woman, I'm not sure if you've had her on the show, she's called Jane Couch, if you haven't, I haven't

Sue Anstiss (13:34):

Had her. I'd like to at some point.

Molly McCann (13:35):

Amazing if yeah, she would. She, she was like the first professional. She made professional boxing for women. A think she won weird titles, flew out to America for, in Las Vegas. She, she's done it all but um, like a decade too early. Do you know what I mean? Like she just, yeah, she paved the way for us to come through and combat sport. But um, in, in a sense of, of martial arts and combat sport, I started with karate and that was very welcoming family doja. I didn't really like it because it taught me great discipline, but you wasn't really allowed to express yourself. It was like, no follow this ka and you were like following the movements. And when it was time to play, that's when I was ready to go and like I was just a bit too rough and ready I think.


So I moved onto Thai boxing and I went from like, uh, uh, I think karate, I'm not sure the origin, but it's definitely Asia. They have a real, like a real a, a good respect. Like you re onto the Marty ray into your room, you funk everyone. And then I went to Thai boxing, which was like a spiritual martial artist. It's like you get into the ring, you, you seal the positive energy in, you expel the negative energy, you show ultimate respect. And then there's gamesmanship in between like you and your opponents can like, like, what's the word? Outand, you have one before you've started. Like they do this thing like where they pretend that they're like fired in an arrow and then the person will move out the way and come back with another like special to do. You know what I mean? And then it's a real respectful,

Sue Anstiss (15:25):

It's really, it's like spiritual, spiritual sledging almost. Yeah,

Molly McCann (15:28):

All. Yeah, absolutely. And then all I have wanted to do was box and my mum wouldn't let me and then, and even with gyms, but by the time I was 15, 68 they let me in and that's when I felt like things started to ch to change. I got involved in football at like the age of 14, had a good go at that was very lucky. Played some really, really good teams and yeah, kind of, it got better as I got older. My only inspirations I had were an Olympic athletes. It was like Denise Lewis, Kelly Holmes, um, yeah, that was it really. Like until obviously the London Games. But I was 22 by then when TMG be absolutely shunned and be so, yeah.

Sue Anstiss (16:15):

So why not football? Why did you not progress further with football? Love with your boxing? Cause you won a world championship, didn't you? Title under 18

Molly McCann (16:21):

National championship. So I was an a B Champion, which to win that it's like, it's like winning the Premier league, do you know what I mean? It's the best, um, national competition. My weight category didn't get added to the London Games. So I won in 2009. Team selection was 2010 and 51 kilo, 61 kilo and 73 to 75 kilo was added. And I'm 56, so 51 was too low and 61 was too high. And I thank God because it was Katie Taylor and Ta Jonas in the 61 kilo and it was Nicola and Adams are 51. So they both done well anyway there. Um, so I was playing football just because I was good at it. I didn't really, I love watching it. I go to the game all the time, but I never really see myself playing for that, for effort. I was actually at Liverpool, I was playing for their women's team and I got injured and then I couldn't, I told the all three ligaments to me uncle and I couldn't, I I wasn't the same player then.


I think if you're not gonna be the best, I I just, I'm not recreationally taking part in sport. I'm here to be the best. And I knew I wasn't ma gonna make national team. So what was the point? Do you know what I mean? Um, so yeah, I went to university to be a PE teacher, which no one would've ever expected cause they just see me as a big mouth who probably drinks beese and fights. But yeah, I got my passion was then to coach. I tried teaching in a formal educational high, high school sense and I'm just a bit rogue for that. Um, like if a kid be, if a kid was rude to me, I'd be like, who the fuck you talking to? Do you know what I mean? Um, but I was lucky enough at university to travel. I remember being 18 and I just went to America for the summer and I was coaching for the Olympic development programme in Virginia.


And then second year I went to Africa volunteering and I was working for the Special Olympics Namibia. And I was working for FIFA as well. So with, with the, the, I think it was 2010, world Cup was in Africa. They made 10 hubs, 10 uh, football for hub centres, which were like a hub in certain countries. And I was working for the one in NA midyear. And in the morning I'd go into the schools and work with the special education on the AIDS kids and they'd be like, right, we want you to teach them football. I'm like, no problem. Where's the air equipment? And he's like, it's that mud pitch. I'm like, right, so how will we like, he was like, if that's up to you. And I was like, where's the balls? Where's the cones that we haven't got, man? I was like, right.


So we'd end up like putting load decela tape together to make 'em balls. I was like drawing cones in, in the modern and I was getting 'em to practise tunes if they could imagine that was the ball. And they was doing skills and just a bit more games and gamesmanship. And then at the nighttime, the kids who could play, we was getting good sessions in and playing with them. And we used to have like a world versus Africa team. So you'd have like the, there was kids from all the African, um, countries of, of obviously of the continents in Africa. And they'd be on one team and then you'd have mostly Europeans on the other. And we play. And it was just, it really opened up my eyes to like, you need to do something really good with your life. You can't, you can't be, this isn't a disrespectful to, to teachers who teach in us in our educational system.


But I can't do that. I don't wanna sit there and write, uh, a curriculum out for the year. I want to go in and change lives. And I reacted and responded better to that style. I, from my upbringing, I was brought up around drugs, violence, gangs, and I could step into that environment and hold my own and the kids could relate to me. I was like a national champion who played professional football. So they weren't really like messing around at me. They respected me, which is like half the battle being a woman. And then when I just as I was finishing university, I literally fell into m a by accident, like literally by accident. So it's been a crazy journey from football, karate, tie, boxing, boxing, um, M m A. Yeah, teaching coaching.

Sue Anstiss (20:48):

And how did you find mma? What was that? The kind of first introduction to the sport?

Molly McCann (20:53):

I think I started MMA for the years after initially going into the gym. Um, I'd gone into spa, a female MMA fighter, just, she was a grapple. So I went in with me hands and I just, the bli raised the rail and forth. This isn't really for me. I watched the grappling and then 2009 you're looking at a lot of steroids induced skinheads just going for each of, you know what I mean? And then I ended up watching fight on February 25th against a woman called Ronda in the ufc. And I, I messaged that coach who, who Jim I went to and okay, I wanna have a go. And by the time I'd next gone in, it was full of kids and younger people. And it wasn't about aggression, it's about our form. It's about a journey. People won't understand the level and the journey. It's not about winning a fight and it's not about winning a whale title, it's the progression of the pace you are from the moment you start it for the rest of your life. It's about making you a better human. Do you know what I mean? And now it doesn't always look like that when we've got the likes of me and Patty screaming and antagon, everyone throwing beer runners. But it really is, it really is.

Sue Anstiss (22:10):

Um, you mentioned Ronda Razzi then, in terms of a sport, I think from the outside it definitely feels like it's perhaps more gender equal than many sports where women are respected as they're competing. Is that what it feels like from inside the sport too?

Molly McCann (22:24):

Yeah, I've done every, I've played every sport nearly under the sun. Especially at uni. It was like on every varsity team. And I think from the moment everyone is on equal pay, everyone fights the same. Like you have the argument in tennis, but still, I think like people sometimes are still like, I don't think women should get paid the same cause they don't play the same amount of sets and games. And I can understand that argument, but women would, if there was allowed to, if there was time to, there's a difference. Do you know what I mean? But like we fight three, five minute round, we fight in the same way categories as the men. And I'd go as far to say as we fight harder sometimes because we're not allowed to or we're not supposed to. A woman's place wasn't to be fighting in a cage full of people. So I'm very privileged to be in a, in a promotion where sometimes takes a lot of flack for how they choose to pay the athletes. Um, but I've worked hard and I secure, I've secured where I'm at and I'm doing quite well now. So I'm happy with that. But the mm-hmm <affirmative>, the equality comes from everyone's treated the same. It doesn't matter like your religion, your sexuality and your gender, there is, it's the same.

Sue Anstiss (23:46):

That's good. Good to hear, isn't it? And refreshing. As you look across that experience of female athletes in other sports too, uh, you did mention you've had a sort of tough upbringing in childhood. Are you happy to talk a little bit, uh, more about that and I guess how that shaped what you went on to do and what you've gone on to achieve?

Molly McCann (24:03):

Yeah, I think I've done, I've never really, I've had like a BC documentary and I've had a whole life to speak about it and I've, I think I've really saved it until I went on the high performance podcast. Yeah. Because people like me don't really end up on this. So I thought just be a little bit more honest than I literally delved about 50% of my life, not even the full 100. But I come from a, a loving family who just grew up in a time in a city where there was not much to do other than a lot of crime probably and a lot of addiction. They heavily gamble and drinking or drugs and it was just, it was not probably what kids would, you'd never imagine for your kids have to live through. And I just remember being very young and always having a moral compass, like walking into being in my room, coming downstairs thinking, why aren't these people asleep?


Why are people still partying in the house? Like getting up to know God? And I'd come downstairs and look at these people and think there is just, I'm talking four, five and six. There's no way I'm ending up like this. And me model Compass just know like, I'm not gonna do that. I'm not gonna do that. And you're probably really born with this. Um, but I was reading a book on emotional intelligence, just always trying to understand my trauma and why I am the way I am and why I dig deeper than most in certain positions, um, or certain parts of life I suppose. And it's because you forged with what you go through. And I think the more adversity that you receive, you have to go through at a younger age normally means that there's nothing really that you can't manage to wiggle your way through as you get older.


Some, like sometimes I get it wrong, I get through with what I've acted incorrectly or I've probably done something negative on the way to get out when I was a lot younger. But I, I feel like I wouldn't change one step in the journey of my family or, or myself. And I'm not ashamed of anything I've done or anything that my family's done. And I've had to get bear that weight of, of that as well because they, they brought me up with brilliant models to be respectful to, to push the envelope, to push the boundary of anything. And they always made me believe I could achieve anything that I ever wanted.

Sue Anstiss (26:29):

That's fantastic here. And I did li obviously I've done a research, I've watched the documentary, I've listened to you on the high performance podcast. It was amazing. Um, I would, I would recommend it as a listen to to others on the back of this too. Um, I first met you at the BT Sport Action Women Awards. And I remember thinking at the time that you were incredibly humble and so modest with those other elite female athletes that around. And yet in the ring, you obviously are quite a different person as you come into the ring there. So do you take on a persona when you go into fight, do you say,

Molly McCann (26:58):

Yeah, I've grown up watching sports with me, me, na, we've watched, I've watched athletics, the Olympics, the Europeans, the indoors, diamond League, every bit of rugby, every bit of football, every bit of every and that's ever been on this. Even snooker like that was just one our even thoughts. That's what our family does. And I've grown up watching all them people. And as you know, I had literally lost the fight 40 hours before I walked into that room on the other side of the world. And it took everything in me to, to come and they had thought I'd won. BT had messaged I think the UFC and gone, I think like there was only a hundred, a couple of hundred Eva way, but the night before Scotland's done this massive push and then, um, the Scottish runner had done, uh, won in the end. But I remember when I was asked to go, I didn't know what it was.


Um, and when I was sat there and everyone knew me, I, I had proper imposter syndrome because Olympic sport and what I do is very different. But I still feel like sometimes those people wouldn't be able to walk in the shoes of what we have to do because I've had to beat the door down to get to where I am. And most of them come from like athletics or an Olympic discipline where everything's set up, everything's funded for them. Ev it's like, it's hard to be in, in the position and face the pressures that they're facing in teams of being number one. I get that. I get that that's the same, would've felt like I just had to do more. But I still feel like the way people would look at me or the way that I look at me myself compared to them, I wouldn't put me in the same breath as them.


I would have them above me. And then when I was in the, like Rachel Yankee, I grew up idolising, idolising this woman and she taught me, she, she'd done a football tournament with me once for the county fa and I went, she came over to me and she was like, you what? You doing's amazing, blah, blah. I was like, whoa. I said, you don't understand what you've done for me. I said, you won't remember this, but you taught me blah, blah, blah. Do you know what I mean? And um, it it, it softened the blah of the loss to know that the women in the field of sport really respect me for what I'm doing. And I am a soft sensitive individual, but when I get in that cage, I use every bit of hate. I'm pain and misfortune and the way I've been treated to, to outmanoeuvre me opponents and to hurt me opponents.

Sue Anstiss (29:35):

I haven't realised that you and Katie Taylor were cousins. So how important do you think it that young girls and boys get to celebrate powerful, strong women like you and Katie? Well,

Molly McCann (29:47):

Here's the funny story. My family left Ireland, me, granddad, me nan in late the seventies and I, or the late sixties. So I didn't know that I was cousins or we was family. Wow. I it's second, it's like a distance, not a face cause you know what I mean? But I remember, um, I just, we was always really proud of being an Irish and if Irelands was on the tell you that you supported them before you supposed England, like that's what it was like to know what I mean. And um, I was 16 in a boxing gym and we coached Kevin had been to Ireland to, to do a camp for England's Ireland, Scotland and Wales, I think it was the Four Nations. And he come back and he had like a VHS camp go there and he's gone look at this gal, watch how she throws, blah blah blah.


It was Katie Taylor. And I was like, I box like that. He went and now he said, but she's the best that there is. I went right, I wanna be like her. Anyway, like four years later my uncle Michaels on a family trade cause no one kept in touch, you know what I mean? And then we found out that we was family. And I think it was only about three years ago that I had known for about, I've known for about eight, eight to 10 years. And I never wanted to just like jump on it and like trying people to perceive it for an insincere thing. Do you know what I mean? But I remember I was coaching the English national team of MMA in the, the national championships. She just walked over next to me and then a seeing her mum and I literally, my face went white, me bum was going and I was like, oh.


And she walked past me into the cage, the hands out a trophy and the mum's called Bridget. I went, hi officer, I know you are a croley, you're bridge a Croley aren't. And she went, yeah, I was like, my Nan's Maria. She was like, that was me auntie. And I was like, I know. I said, that's, that's like she married me, granddad John. And, and she was like, oh my God. And she's like, Katie, do you know who's her cousins? And she was like, explains a lot. You know what I mean? And um, yeah, it's just, I'll go to fight <inaudible>. I, we don't really like speak, I don't think she really speaks to many people to be favourable to know that the bloodline's strung and she made, she made me laugh. She went in the women who handle it and this family, isn't it? Something like that. Anyway, <laugh>, I was like, yeah, it is, it is <laugh>, but it's important. It's important, yeah. That, um, she's inspired the nation of men female. She's inspired the whale. You what I mean everyone wants to be like Katie Taylor. So yeah. Yeah.

Sue Anstiss (32:28):

I do think this sport has a power. We were talking earlier, aren't we in terms of um, me doing this podcast for years and years. But my cousin, my nephews now hearing that I'm interviewing you, being proper excited, suddenly about the podcast <laugh>, I'm talking to Molly McCann. So I do think there is that piece around, uh, younger men and boys who maybe see female athletes in MMA and, and really resonate. It's

Molly McCann (32:52):

A different light. It's a different sport altogether. Like I don't, I think it understands what I mean, but I'm game. So everyone always says you are game you well. It's like you put me in any way and I'm coming. Know what I mean? Like, and I think men, I can finish fights excitingly that little boy's like, no way. No way. Cause men sometimes don't even get that finished. Do you know what I mean? And the thing that, like my phone now is recording on top of a PlayStation with a game that I'm involved in. Like ufc I'm in the game and I get caught like tagged on socials every day of little boys doing I spinning elbow on people going, yeah. Do you know what I mean? So

Sue Anstiss (33:40):

<laugh> it's lovely, isn't it? So it's just important in terms of society's view of women and and changing that too. It's

Molly McCann (33:46):

Changing though, isn't it? I I get trolled and heath are just as much as a man and I get loved and respected just as much as a man

Sue Anstiss (33:55):

<laugh>. It's sad that you gotta be pleased of the, the negativity in terms of equality of negativity. Well

Molly McCann (34:01):

Yeah, I just, well Graham Patty used to get Charles a lot more than me and our manager said it, you need a 50 50 and then, you know, we are like superstar. And I was like, right, I reckon I'm a 50 50 now. So I'm like, ooh.

Sue Anstiss (34:18):

You've obviously said, you've mentioned you've, you've had that huge success in terms of profile and and endorsements. Were you ever concerned that that fame and money might change the essence of you, of who you are?

Molly McCann (34:28):

No, because I never wanted it in the first instance. And I hate it. I'll smash an interview also for Ted. Like I'll give the best, I'll wear 45 minutes of my life to anyone who wants it. I give as much time as I can to my community and needs the notoriety to make change in my communities. So, and I have to take it on the chin. I absolutely hate it. Um, I hate the negative parts of it. I hate the fact that I'm in a fishbowl most of the time when I'm out and a boat. I can't get out the way everyone's kind of stays. Do you know what I mean? Even if phones on out, you, you, it was a lot of grieving me private life and me privacy and the worst thing and the biggest lesson that I had to learn to overcome is and make peace with not everyone's going to hear me out and not everyone's got time to understand my truth.


And when no one's got time for my truth, then I can't have time for their trs and their abuse. You know what I mean? Like, you might not like what I look like. You might not like what I speak like you might not like me for whatever reason, but as a human to do what I've done deserves a bit of respect. Do you know what I mean? And I don't troll people. I don't, I suppose having football club, do you know what I mean? And I never come after the players. Do you know for what I mean? Like even when they've had the rubbish game, it's just not the way decent people are. But I've just gotta understand that at night someone always used to say to me like, Molly, like let your money wipe away your tears. I realise I'm never gonna speak like that and be like that cause that's just being an idiot. But I'm sitting at home financially stable with a life I've created for myself that I've massively overachieved. Cause this was never on the cards for me. Do you know what I mean?

Sue Anstiss (36:21):

And was there a moment you talk about that kind of fame and being, I guess being out in Liverpool and people recognising you and son, was there a time at which you felt that switch happened? Was that as you moved into UFC with your

Molly McCann (36:30):


Sue Anstiss (36:31):


Molly McCann (36:31):

After? Yeah, after me and Paddy had a fight together in Las Vegas since not September. Gone the one before. And then it was, um, I couldn't move, couldn't move. It's way wild. It's not like it's hard in Liverpool. It's hard in Dublin, maybe Manchester. Um, well I'd say like the rest of the world, you, you still get noticed. So sometimes you think, I went to LA the other week in Texas and I was like, yes, no one's really gonna bother me. And it was fucking every shop, but people in America really polite. They was like, welcome to Texas, miss Molly. And I said like, parents, oh, like it was nice too to me, like yeah, yeah, walking down Santa Monica like Boulevard or Strip or whatever it's called. And people are like, oh my god, it's the meatball. And I'm like, oh my god. You know, I am <laugh>.

Sue Anstiss (37:26):

And do you have support on coaching to help you through that? Because obviously that can really mess with your head. No. Both the negativity and people knowing

Molly McCann (37:34):

You. No, no one teaches you this bit. Um, it's what I say to like, when I speak to Olympic athletes and footballers was like, you've been farmed and prepped for this your whole life. Me and my friends and my team, I've just been dropped into my fishbowl and it happens over the space of six months and it's, it took me about eight months to be able to, like you would've hated on that other podcast, develop coping mechanisms to deal with it. Do you know what I mean? But like, done a really hot babe an interview with BT yesterday about my last loss and 50% of the comments underneath it are like, like horrific. Do you know what I mean? And then you've got all people who were just like, genuine people, like fucking I'll get thrown with a fucking bones. She like, I've realised that reality and society is like completely fucked now.


Do you know what I mean? Like, when you think about what we actually went through in Covid and then like you can't be yourself and yourself without people hating you for being. And I When did that become a thing? It's like two years ago. Do I mean it's like, I'm like, I just can't get my head rounded. Someone don't choose to anymore. I think if you, human being generally tends to be a fucking male and wanna sit in your car in between jobs, doing your scuffy and you're pissed off at your own life cause you're not where you wanna be. Put the hate on me mate. That's fine. You vent, you do what you need to do. It says a lot more about you than what it says about me

Sue Anstiss (39:09):

To me. And what do you do? Can you, can you step away from it? Except in the, you know, the programme that you have now. I've

Molly McCann (39:14):

Learned, I've learned to step away from engagement of negativity. I can't, I can't not engage in kids coming over or people coming over for that. That's obviously you don't ask for it, you get it. But that's staying. Um, but I just learn to deal with it. I had, I just like to say to him, fiance said, um, you can't get pissed off when this happens now because that's a, that it's like a domino to me. Like I'm already uncomfortable. And then when you are uncomfortable, it's making me feel worse. So I said this January, I just said from here on out, I'm just accepting it. I'm just taking it on the chin and I'm changing my mindset because it it like, it's a blessed stress. Like it's a blessed stress.

Sue Anstiss (40:06):

I've not heard that as a phrase before. I I like that one. But you are right. It's, yeah, it comes with, its, uh, it

Molly McCann (40:12):

Didn't have it. If it didn't have it, I wouldn't be able to work for the charities to work for it and help push that. I wouldn't be able to bring funds into communities and areas that need that. I wouldn't have this, I wouldn't be getting asked by the Labour Party and socialists to come to enough as enough rallies and help with the unions. I wouldn't be, I wouldn't be getting that Jo. Yeah.

Sue Anstiss (40:33):

Yeah. Um, you mentioned your fiancee then. So you announced your engagement Alice on New Year's Eve. So firstly congratulations. And that's exciting and lovely. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and what, what was the response like we talked about the, I guess

Molly McCann (40:47):


Sue Anstiss (40:48):


Molly McCann (40:49):

Yeah, <laugh>, um, we were shitting ourselves to be fair. I think it kind of ruined the moment was amazing. And then we went to sleep and woke up and went, ah, we've gotta tell people. And um, for those who aren't different, and for those who were open minded than just a genuinely good person, they'd be like, oh, shut up. I you even worried. But you've not had to live phase three years of, of, well, I'd say, I wouldn't even say phase three years, a coup like a couple years of, of abuse. Do you know what I mean? So we was very nervous. And then the media and the tabloids picked up on it in like seven minutes and everyone was boss. Like, I wasn't expecting that, but yeah, it was okay,

Sue Anstiss (41:36):

So positive. And did you think that the presence of same sex couples in ufc, so is Amanda and Nina Nuez Nu so loved and celebrated in the sport anyway, so do you think that that kind of helped in terms of the, was already that love and acceptance in the sport?

Molly McCann (41:52):

The sport is very accepting. You'll have the, the, the exception to the real will normally be devout. I'm saying this loosely devout religious people who want to pick and choose what part of their religion they're gonna hold onto. You know what I mean? There'll be people who could be going out drinking, having sex before marriage and all that carry on. But wanna tell me about myself because I'm gay. You don't, I just, I don't get me head rounded, but I choose to just let them do them. And like, it doesn't hate me to be trolled for being gay anymore. I still don't feel comfortable with it sometimes because I, I, I see it like pride's coming up and on the media tour, I just seeing a lot of people being like, oh, can you do this? Talking about being gay in a photo? No, not just so you can have a sound bite for next month because you don't support us all year round. And not asking for support always, but we're always visible, not just for one day a year. You know what I mean? So I was like, no, <laugh> no.

Sue Anstiss (42:58):

And last year you published a beautiful book for children Be True to You, a a story of coming out. So mm-hmm <affirmative>, can you just tell me like why you wrote it and what's the response been like to it too?

Molly McCann (43:09):

Yeah, so I think, was it last year or the year before? I can't remember. Okay. I can't remember. I

Sue Anstiss (43:15):

Lost track of years actually with Covid and <laugh> I think

Molly McCann (43:18):

Did, I think it was last year. I think. Um, I just, I really struggled coming out, really struggled. So I literally just wrote my story for younger people to read and not to force people out and not to glamorise being gay, to show people that th this is what happens sometimes. And if it takes you longer to find your peace, that's okay. And at the back of the book, it provides a space for someone to like draw their story, to maybe tell pe it it was more for like parents or coaches. You think that their kids are struggling, you're gonna be okay, like you're gonna be okay. I know people have killed themselves for, for fear of coming out. I know people who've been killed for being gay in this city. Do you know what I mean? And of course, before I'm dead I will have, I would've fought hard for every community that I stand for, whether it's the place that I'll live, meet me fighting team or me gender or my sexuality, I'll try and help as best and leave the space better than when I found it.

Sue Anstiss (44:28):

That's fabulous to hear. And you've been, you know, very outspoken in terms of social issues and equality and you mentioned some of the groups that you are now working with. So is that something you'd like to use your platform more in the future? And obviously you've got a big fight coming up. I don't wanna preempt any end of the career in the future, but, but what is it you feel you'd like to do beyond m m A in the future?

Molly McCann (44:48):


Sue Anstiss (44:54):

Oh, I lost you for a bit there. You're, sorry I lost you of exemptions. Sorry.

Molly McCann (44:58):

That's okay. Uh, so we, we talked about politics, did, was it kind of politics?

Sue Anstiss (45:05):

Well, I'm not sure what's happened to the, um, Internet's gone a bit crap there. Sorry, I was just in terms of That's okay. Um, should I ask that again? Sorry.

Molly McCann (45:13):

Yeah, just, just so that you can have that for the podcast.

Sue Anstiss (45:16):

Yeah. Continuity. Sorry, last question. Can

Molly McCann (45:18):

You see my back kick? Can you see

Sue Anstiss (45:20):

I'm moving. Bless you.

Molly McCann (45:22):

I've got, I've done the

Sue Anstiss (45:23):

I with you.

Molly McCann (45:25):

SJ joints or srj joints. Ah,

Sue Anstiss (45:30):

Crap. Sorry, I won't Okay, one more. One more. No problem. Um, so it's great to hear in terms of all that you're doing and using your profile, you know, campaigning on social issues and equality, is that something you'd like to do more of on in the future? And clearly you've got a big fight coming up, you are still competing, but, but where, what do you look like beyond mma?

Molly McCann (45:52):

I feel like after like I'll end up opening a wellness centre and like a pathway for my community to get the kids, get them ready to, to compete, like train the kids and what I do best and then probably filter them down to my gym to become professional athletes and represent this city. Um, I feel like politics is probably something I'll be able to do a lot more when I'm not fighting. So I, I said I was involved in an Enough is enough rally and I had to make a speech there and I just said like, I'm not as quick with me words as I am with my hands. Um, so it's gonna take me a bit of time to be able to, to not bite and just be aggressive, but to out manoeuvre with me, with me words as opposed to with me body.


So I think when I've got that down and I know the ins and outs of every policy and I, I'm quick with it enough to then do that. Like I, politics is something that I'd be involved in. I think b and I was just an activist as positive as a can. And, um, I just believe that it should be fair for all and not, not just a few when I don't know, I live in an area that's, I, I grew up here and I've just moved back here, do you know what I mean? Like, I've earned money and I've come home to live in my community where I was raised. So it says a lot about the people and them communities are really good. They're just not given an awful lot of opportunity. So thank God <inaudible> sl. I I'm still on this call. I'll be 10 minutes. I'm still on this call. Go on. Sorry. Yes. Yeah,

Sue Anstiss (47:42):

You, you are building, you're building to a lovely part there then need surgery. Yeah. Sorry. So j so coming back to the community, so you've, you've been off, you, you've kind of come back home to the community.

Molly McCann (47:51):

Yeah, I just think it's important to make sure that I've always wanted to leave this city better than what I found it and give back to it more than what I've taught Joe mean. And I think that's really important for me. Um, and that's the end goal. It was to always provide, make sure I had a life that was one of my wildest dreams that I didn't think Bricks and water, a car, a whale title a degree, a family. That was my goals. That's me. Life goals and, and to have a legacy and a charity will probably be a raise my community to belittle a little animals, do you know what I mean? Get them like euro products of your environment and the environment stuff. So it makes those kind like I said, you forged, you made of what you forged from to know remain. And these kids have all got bags of, uh, abundance, bags of resilience, sorry, they've got that in abundance. And so yeah,

Sue Anstiss (48:56):

Head over to fearless uk to find previous episodes where I've spoken to other trailblazing women in sport. There were over 110 of them featured including elite athletes, broadcasters, coaches, administrators and CEOs, as well as listening to all the podcasts on the website. You can also find out more about the Women's Sport Collective, a free inclusive community for all women working in sport. You can sign up for the Fearless Women Newsletter, which highlights the developments in global women's sport. And there's more about my book game on the unstoppable rise of women's sport. Thanks again to Sport England for backing the game changers through the National Lottery and to Sam Walker at What Goes On Media, who does such a brilliant job as our executive producer. The Game Changers is free to listen to and you can find it on all podcast platforms. Do follow us or subscribe to make sure you don't miss out on future episodes. And if you have a moment to leave a rating or a review, it is fantastic and would make a big difference to help us enable Oh, and if you have a moment to leave a rating or a review, it would be fantastic as it really helps us to reach new audiences. Do come and say hello on social media, where you'll find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook at Sue Anstiss. The Game Changers, fearless Women in Sport.