Jack McGann returns to the cage tomorrow night when the 23-year-old lightweight (11-3, 10 KOs) comes up against Levan Makashvili (10-2-1, 3 KOs) exclusively live on UFC Fight Pass from freezing Moscow.
McGann, who has long been associated with the Wolfslair Academy in his home city of Liverpool, has fought in Russia three times previously and is determined to bring mixed martial arts –– outside of the UFC –– into the mainstream consciousness.
“I have main evented a major Russian event. This will be my fourth fight in Russia against a guy ranked [number] 20 in the world,” McGann told Fight Disciples.
Known as a KO artist and long thought of as one of the hottest prospects in the sport, McGann has aspirations to fight in his home city –– to a UFC-style reception –– but he is keen not to get ahead of himself and knows that there is still a long way to go for somebody still so tender in age.
“I think I’ve moved on from prospect,” he continued, before going on to talk about his current surroundings. “Moscow is like any major world capital. It’s beautiful and highly cultured.
“The people are great and they treat you very well. The fans are intelligent and the atmosphere is electric. I love fighting in Russia.”
Growing up on the mats alongside some of MMA’s most celebrated stars, McGann –– whose octagon moniker is ‘The Pilgrim’ –– insists he is on track to become a big star in his own right in the sport through his finish-first style.
“All the major jumps in the industry came through knockout machines. Chuck [Lidell], Wanderlei [Silva], Rampage [Jackson] and now Conor [McGregor],” he said. “Not through submission magicians or wrestling grinders. The big leaps come from the bangers.
“I am a knockout specialist and I believe that one day I can get the fans excited like the giants before me. That’s how you get a city excited. It’s my mission. We’re coming to Liverpool [and] it’s not a matter of if but when.”
Liverpool, at the moment, is a fighting hotbed. Whether that be boxing or mixed martial arts, everyone but everybody knows –– or knows of –– somebody from the city involved in fight sports.
Fight Disciples asked McGann whether he had ever thought, either during his MMA career or before it, about a switch in discipline.
“I am told all the time I can be a very good pro boxer –– by multiple coaches,” he said. “I spar top-level guys regularly [and] I always do well against them. However, what happens in the gym is different to a fight.”
Two of the most recognisable names within boxing are the recently retired Derry Mathews and now-former WBC cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew.
Mathews supports the red half of the city, while ‘Bomber’ is a die-hard Blue. But McGann says that he uses his boxing ability in the cage, combining the two disciplines.
“It would take me a very long time to compete like Bellew or Mathews,” he continued. “Those guys are phenomenal at what they do, with decades of experience. Put either of them in MMA mitts and they would have a higher knockout record than me.
“Boxing is the most difficult and complex discipline of them all. Few people really understand that. But I have a great understanding and I use it with deadly efficiency in a cage.
“Let me add that Tony’s recent win [over David Haye at the O2 Arena in London on March 4] gave me a sore throat from shouting at the screen. He was magnificent.”
Elaborating on the boxing angle, McGann went further in to the thoughts about him potentially filling a stadium with an octagon in its centre.
“Tony wears two hats –– Liverpool’s top boxer and a virtual icon for Everton supporters. He comes out to Z Cars and it’s brilliant. Tony’s Goodison fight was a no-brainer and he put on a show to boot.
“I have a good way to go yet before I have those aspirations in sight. However, MMA is exploding and if I can keep knocking guys over and entertaining the fans then who knows? Maybe one day.
“A stadium is no easy job and I think if Tony does it again it will be even bigger. He might start a trend we can all follow.”
McGann went on to talk about the UFC –– the mixed martial arts’ premier promotion which returns on April 8 at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York with the Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson rematch.
“I don’t need to look ahead [to a potential deal with the UFC],” says McGann, who will ringwalk tomorrow dressed as John Lennon to Beatles track Bavk in the USSR!. “I have a great deal and a promoter who’s giving me huge opportunities.