Molly McCann lost in under two minutes at UFC’s London show on Saturday night. Julija Stoliarenko made the Liverpudlian submit with a brutal armbar that left ‘Meatball’ Molly in agony. This isn’t how the co-main event in McCann’s home country was supposed to go, something a large percentage of the UFC fanbase revelled in.
Fans were openly delighted that this so-called “hype job” had been “exposed”, expressing their glee on Twitter. Some of the feedback was as balanced as you’d expect. A man calling himself ‘Hugo Tory’, with the requisite Union Jack in his bio, claimed “She blamed the tories (sic) for the loss”. Considering McCann has been outspoken in her dislike of the Conservative party, Hugo’s hubris is not entirely unexpected.
But there was plenty more abuse where that came from. “No better feeling in the world than a Molly McCann loss” was one such opinion. “Get this bum off the roster” was another. “Molly McTrashcan” won the competition for the most creative effort, if nothing else.
So why the hatred? There are a number of factors. Some are understandable and some less forgivable. The allegation she is overhyped carries some weight. There aren’t many fighters with a 6-5 UFC record who have generated as many column inches as McCann. She’s had documentaries made on her, been interviewed by star-making influencer Amelia Dimoldenberg on Chicken Shop Date and was in the coveted co-main event slot at the O2. There aren’t many fighters outside of the world rankings who command this much mainstream attention.
There is a darker element to some of the abuse. McCann is openly left-wing in her politics. This makes her a divisive figure by nature. Any athlete who is openly political is going to alienate those who don’t agree with them. Molly is also openly gay which, sadly, is still enough to make her a target for some of society’s more odious people.
That’s not to say all the stick McCann has received since the Stoliarenko fight has been due to her orientation or beliefs. Some of it demonstrably has been, with that much being openly stated in the social media posts aimed at her. But those commenting on her performance, which was tame, or her overpromotion into a UFC figurehead are justified. Hating her for who she is will always be disgusting. Being alienated by the fact her rise to fame has largely been incongruous with her actual in-cage achievements is fair.
There is one facet to her exploits in the Octagon that is being overlooked however. Whenever McCann has faced adversity, she has come back stronger. In 2018, she was submitted in her hometown of Liverpool on her UFC debut by Jillian Robertson. ‘Meatball’ rebounded with three straight victories.
When McCann endured back-to-back losses to Taila Santos and Lara Procopio, she rallied once again. The 33-year-old racked up another three straight wins. She received two Performance of the Night bonuses and a Fight of the Night award for these bouts. Erin Blanchfield dulled her momentum with a one-round submission win in November. Now Stoliarenko has poured the coldest of water on McCann’s ambitions.
Molly McCann isn’t an elite fighter. But the same is true for the majority of the UFC roster. Has the company been guilty of pushing her beyond her abilities in terms of promotion? Undoubtedly. Was McCann anywhere near good enough at the weekend? No. But ‘Meatball’ Molly has proven herself well equipped to deal with such adversity. Whether it is speaking up against political or homophobic oppression or bouncing back from defeat. As much as it will annoy the boo boys on social media, we surely haven’t heard the last from Molly McCann.
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