Dakota Ditcheva the next Molly McCann?

Dakota Ditcheva plans to remain undefeated as she chases titles in MMA; Ditcheva hopes to follow the path set out by fighters like Molly McCann and considers how elite boxing champion Claressa Shields can cope with continuing her involvement in mixed martial arts

Manchester’s Dakota Ditcheva is hoping to mark herself out as a rising star in MMA.

She wants to follow in the footsteps of Molly McCann, who, despite a loss last month, has still had an electrifying rise through the sport.

“Molly’s doing so well, she’s built such a fanbase around her at the moment. Paddy [Pimblett] obviously is doing so well as well but Molly being a female as well is really bringing the sport up.”

She added: “In boxing the all-female card that happened with Claressa [Shields] and Savannah Marshall. It’s just massive. I feel like me and Molly are just pushing it for the UK, which is really nice, the same with Savannah. It’s nice to see girls in martial arts just pushing it in all areas.”

Ditcheva is starting to have an impact herself. She has competed twice in the PFL and won both bouts inside the first round. Most recently, last week she scored a spectacular knockout win over Katherine Corogenes in New York.

She’s in a light division but strikes with power.

“I fight at flyweight, which is a really light weight. People don’t think that I hit that hard, or look that strong. The fighters only realise when they take a punch or take a kick from me,” she said.

“That’s what I’m known for, early finishes,” she continued. “To get the big finish at the end was just really important for me. I often do get a lot of finishes in my fights but I think pulling something out the bag like the knockout that I did was just something that I’ve been working so hard for.

“To have a clean knockout was a big thing for me.”

Ditcheva is undefeated in professional MMA. She intends to keep that run rolling on and build her reputation in the way that Kayla Harrison did in the PFL.

“I want to rerun her career in my own way. She got to 15-0 undefeated [before her contest last week] and she’s been with PFL the whole time. She’s had the world championship belt two years in a row and she’s made her money so my inspiration is just to make it to the top of PFL and from there see where it takes me after that,” Ditcheva said.

“If I have to move promotions to fight the best person then I’ll do that but for now I want to beat everyone that’s in my league in PFL.

“I’m still undefeated in professional MMA so that’s kind of the goal to get up there undefeated and get that world championship belt.”

The Mancunian has been fighting since childhood. She had her first kickboxing bouts when she was just four years old.

“I had two or three then I completely stopped,” she said. “My mum [a fighter herself] pushed me into every other sport to make sure that there wasn’t something else that I wanted to do. When I was 13 I came back to it myself.

“I decided it was what I wanted to do,” she continued. “From there it’s been non-stop since.”

Eventually she would switch to MMA. “I saw more of a career in MMA than I did Thai boxing,” she said.

“All fights start standing up so until you hit the floor, you can’t really use those tools I suppose. So if you’ve got your striking to a level where you can keep it on your feet, then it’s an advantage. For me I feel like coming from a striking background, it’s done me a lot of favours.”

Claressa Shields is facing a more extreme transition. The undisputed middleweight champion in boxing, she intends to return to the PFL herself and have another MMA contest.

Commenting on the move, Ditcheva said: “It’s going to be tough. People will know how good she is at boxing and want to take her down straight away.

“That’s kind of the same with me, people have tried to come and take me down all the time. But with the level of striking and obviously Claressa’s level of boxing, if she can work and change her style to keep it on the feet and defend that wrestling, she’ll knock everybody out.

“It can work in your favour but it is difficult.”

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