Professional UFC fighter ‘Meatball’ Molly McCann made her name in UFC in 2022. This LGBTQ+ history month, we take a look at the career of a proud member of the community.

Growing up in Liverpool’s Norris Green, McCann, now 32, initially trained in karate, kickboxing and Thai boxing before beginning to box at the age of 12.

Before beginning in MMA, she played football for five years and even played for Liverpool in midfield as a teenager, despite being an Evertonian. Her career as a footballer ended when she was 16 following an ankle ligament injury.

McCann began her MMA training in 2013. She adopted the name ‘Meatball’ Molly early in her career as she would work at Subway to keep herself on her feet.

Her professional debut came for MMA promotion Shock N’ Awe in May 2015, winning by TKO in the first round against Katy Horlick.

Lass than a year later, she won the vacant Shock N’ Awe Flyweight Championship. She would successfully defend it once six months later against Macicilia Benkhettache.

McCann would also win the vacant Cage Warriors Women’s Flyweight Championship against Bryony Tyrell in February 2018 by TKO in the second round. The victory extended her MMA record to 7-1 which earned her a UFC contract that same year.

But her UFC career started off slowly, losing her debut fight to Gillian Robertson via a rear-naked choke in the second round at UFC Fightnight: Thompson vs Till in front of her home town.

Almost a year later, she would bounce back with a win Priscila Cachoeira via unanimous decision in the third round at UFC Fight Night: Till vs Masvidal.

Since then, the scouse brawler has built a 13-5 MMA record and has become an inspiration for Liverpool, women and particularly the LGBTQ+ community.

McCann struggled for the majority of her youth and young adult life with her sexuality. She didn’t come out as gay until she was 25.

Her Catholic background and fear of public reactions meant she would not even entertain being gay.

She told BT Sport in the documentary Meatball Molly: “I absolutely ran with it until the wheels fell off, until I couldn’t run anymore.”

McCann wrote an illustrated book for young children in 2021 called ‘Be true to you.’ The book explains her journey and how it took her such a long time to be who she is.

She explained how MMA provided her the space to feel safe with the coaches and people.

The gym let her be herself without judgement. It made her realise she wasn’t being who she was and true to herself and the book is to help children embrace themselves.

This month is about celebrating gay history and athletes like Molly McCann, who is a role model to thousands across the globe who may also be afraid of coming out.