Much has been made recently of Ian McCall’s struggles with addiction and how he overdosed only to receive a second chance at life. He has certainly made the most of his gift as he is the #1 ranked flyweight in the world and is preparing to make his UFC debut in the organization’s flyweight tournament, set to start this Friday night in Australia. McCall faces Demetrius Johnson in one bout while Joseph Benavidezl takes on Yasuhiro Urushitani. The two winners will then mix it up later in the year for the right to be crowned the UFC’s first flyweight champ.
“Uncle Creepy”, as he is affectionately known, is currently on a four-fight winning streak including a victory over Jussier da Silva in February of 2011 under the Tachi Palace Fights banner. At the time Da Silva was considered by countless fans and pundits as the top 125-pound fighter in the world. A win over Dustin Ortiz just three months later earned McCall a shot at the TPF flyweight belt against Darrell Montague. Once again McCall made the most of his opportunity and walked away the new champion by choking Montague out in the third round.
Now that the UFC has added the 125-pound division, the 11-2 McCall can finally showcase his talents and unorthodox look in front of millions of MMA fans. A man like McCall shouldn’t be kept under wraps. His story is inspiring, his talents are plentiful, and his personality is charismatic and engaging. When Court McGee won The Ultimate Fighter Season 11 fans really took to his story given all of the trial and tribulations he went through as he battled addiction. As such, there is no reason to believe the fans won’t attach themselves to McCall in the same fashion.
With just a few days before the biggest fight of his career McCall is able to head to Australia feeling confident. He has a strong support group both in and out of the cage and a clear head that will allow him to focus on the task at hand. Many fighters are quick to point out that surrounding yourself with the right people is one of the most important aspects of the sport. For McCall, he has made sure to apply that philosophy into his personal life as well. Now that he is UFC bound, McCall knows it’s time to ramp his game up and be prepared for anything.
“My coaches have me really focusing on my wrestling right now,” McCall said in an exclusive interview with Five Ounces of Pain. “I don’t suck at wrestling, but now that I’m in the UFC and will be facing opponents like ‘Mighty Mouse’ and Benavidez I know I need to work on that aspect of my game. We’ve brought in some guys to help me out and I’m a big believer in that I always have room to learn and we’ve been doing just that. I’ve been trying to improve my Jiu-Jitsu and work towards getting my blackbelt.”
One advantage that McCall and Urushitani may have over Benavidez and Johnson is that they have been fighting at flyweight for awhile now. Although the ten pounds doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to cut when you are as lean as these fighters are to begin with, cutting any amount of weight, especially for the first time, could provide an edge to the those already accustomed to the process.
“I think Benavidez will have a more difficult time that Johnson because Demetrius isn’t that big,” McCall explained. “I don’t think the cut will be that hard for him even though he hasn’t done it in awhile. I think he’ll be fine. Joe is a little bigger, but he’s an intelligent guy and I’m sure both fighters will get the weight cut down without any problems.”
Although he has to get passed Johnson first and that is where his focus should and will be, there has to be a tiny part of him that is thinking about who he may fight in the finals. Benavidez has fought a lot of top guys over the past few years including Cruz twice so McCall has been able to keep up with his career. It’s not as easy when it comes to following Urushitani, but McCall seems to have a winner of that bout in mind already.
“Joseph is a bad, bad man,” McCall explained. “Quite simply he goes out there and he f*cks people up. I think that the Japanese fighters have a hard time with fighters like Benavidez. Not to take away from them, especially Urushitani who has beaten a lot of good fighters, but I think Benavidez will be able to finish. Still, you never know since the Japanese fighters are real tough and sneaky. I think Urushitani has a tougher fight than I do as far as styles are concerned.”
Since the UFC created the flyweight division there has been a lot of talk about what other fighters are going to be brought into the UFC. There are certainly a lot of talented guys competing in Tachi Palace, Japan and Brazil for the UFC to go out and sign. McCall offered his own opinion on who he feels would be successful in the UFC.
“Without a doubt Jussier da Silva,” McCall said confidently. “He just keeps getting better and better each and every time out. The win he had over Mamoru Yamaguchi is a feat in and of itself. I think they will sign Mamoru because he is who he is. I know there are a few other Brazilian guys, plus guys like Dustin Ortiz and Darrell Montague who are fighting in TFC. John Dodson is a stud – he’s a badass. Some people may not like him because of his time on TUF, but he’s a great fighter.”
Now that the flyweights are here they can finally begin to receive the recognition and the salaries they deserve. As we have witnessed with the additions of the bantamweight and featherweight divisions in the UFC, fans are quick to accept and embrace these smaller fighters. For many of them it’s been a long time coming taking fights in the middle of nowhere for very little pay. Now it’s their time to shine and McCall is promising the fans they won’t be disappointed.
“Everyone fighting at 135 and 145 has paved the way for us,” McCall said appreciatively. “Look at the fights they have been putting on. They have great champions like Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo. Then you have fighters like Urijah Faber and Mark Hominick who are consistently putting on great fights. When have you seen a boring fight in the UFC in either one of those two divisions? Even their slowest fights are more exciting than a lot of the fights in the bigger weight classes. We have so much energy and don’t need to conserve it. We have fought so hard to get to where we are at we aren’t going to do anything to jeopardize our position. We’re going in there and we are going to try to take each others’ heads off!”
Fans can tune in to watch McCall battle Johnson when the main UFC on FX 2 broadcast starts at 9:00 PM EST with prelims on Facebook/Fuel starting a few hours earlier. The night’s headliner features widely respected welterweights Martin Kampmann-Thiago Alves doing battle in hopes of moving one step closer to a divisional title-shot.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC