Diana Belbita says UFC Fight Night 235 rematch offer vs. Molly McCann halted retirement plan

LAS VEGAS – Diana Belbita was essentially done with MMA before matchmakers presented the opportunity to avenge her first octagon loss vs. Molly McCann at UFC Fight Night 235.

Belbita (13-8 MMA, 2-4 UFC) suffered a unanimous decision loss to former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz in October and said she was very close to pulling the trigger on retirement. But then the phone rang, and she was offered a rematch with McCann (13-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC), who beat “Warrior Princess” by unanimous decision in her UFC debut in October 2019.

The initial fight took place in the women’s flyweight division, but the sequel will happen at strawweight, with the matchup set for prelims of Saturday’s card at the UFC Apex (ESPN+). It’s a whole different scenario, and Belbita is relishing the chance to show how much she’s improved over the past four-plus years.

“I have to admit that, after I fought Karolina, I considered myself being done fighting, stepping down and that’s it,” Belbita told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 235 media day. “Sometimes we don’t want to do it, and that’s OK. I just want to find another way in life, and I was ready for that. But this rematch with Molly McCann, it’s what took me back. When UFC texted me and I saw that it’s Molly McCann’s name on that, I was like, ‘Hell yeah. I have to do it again.’

“First of all I have to do it for myself because I want to see where I stand right now. When I fought Molly I was just a kid fighting at the wrong weight class, I just moved to Canada two months before that. I was not ready at all for that fight. Now she’s going to face a different fighter. I know she improved a lot, I know she’s a different fighter, too, but I really need to see my level right now.”

Despite considering herself “done” in the sport, Belbita, 27, said the loss to Kowalkiewicz wasn’t the primary factor. In fact, she took that result in a very positive manner.

“What’s frustrating in that defeat? I don’t feel like that was a defeat,” Belbita said. “That was a great fight, so I don’t see the problem. Of course I learned a lot after that fight. Of course facing a fighter like Karolina was great for me and my experience and my career. So I’m happy I had that fight. Of course I didn’t win it and I was disappointed after, but that was a great experience for me.”

Although she agreed to the rematch with McCann, there is no future commitment to fighting beyond that, Belbita said. She’s making short-term choices at this point, and revealed this could very well be her final fight, no matter if she wins or loses.

“I’m not going to force myself to do something if I don’t feel like doing it,” Belbita said. “For now I like it, but let’s see how it’s going to end and let’s see how I feel. Don’t be surprised if I’m going to win and still be like, ‘I don’t feel like doing it.’ And I’m not going to do it if I don’t feel like doing it. I have so many options in life. I can do so many things. I’m not going to be stuck in something if I’m not in it 100 percent.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 235.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie