In 2011, a 27-year-old Ian McCall was widely considered the number one ranked flyweight fighter in the world. He was the king of Tachi Palace Fights and was ready to take the UFC by storm. Unfortunately a botched call in the UFC flyweight semi-finals against Demetrious Johnson set his UFC career off to a rocky start and things never really came to fruition.
Following the majority draw call at UFC on FX 2, McCall went on to lose a decision to Johnson at UFC on FX 3 and then lost to Joseph Benavidez by decision as well at UFC 156. “Uncle Creepy” won his next two bouts in very exciting fashion, despite it going to the judges scorecards, against Illiarde Santos and Brad Pickett. In January 2015, the California native took to the Octagon against an overweight John Lineker and was unable to get the job done.
This was the last time we saw McCall inside the UFC cage and in his mind over the next two years it was the last time he would set foot in the cage as well.
“The body’s gotten better, I actually gave up at one point because working and then I was still training and coaching and then it started to work and then the fight got offered,” McCall told The Underground Podcast. “Honestly they asked me if I wanted to fight in South Dakota and I said ‘nope’ then they said do you want to fight in South Dakota and I said ‘no did you not hear me?’ They said again do you want a fight and I said ‘fine, whatever.’ Luckily they moved the fight to Atlanta.
I’m excited. It’s a good-sized card – it’s a great card. It’s an honor to be a part of it and I’m happy to be fighting such a good up and coming kid. My life is fucking awesome, I can’t really complain about anything.”
The fight that he is so excited about is a return match-up against an up and coming 24-year-old talent, Justin Scoggins. UFC 201 features two title fights — Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley in the main event and flyweight’s Demetrious Johnson vs. Wilson Reis in the evening’s co-main event.
McCall didn’t decide to hang up the gloves because he was done with fighting, but instead because a nagging injury was keeping him from training the way a top fighter should be.
“My arm wasn’t working. The pain was crazy; it just kept failing me,” McCall said. “I’d be shadow boxing and it’d give out. It was kind of weird to think about because one day I just said fuck this, I’m over it, and this hurts too much. About a month, two months later, I was training and I was in shape already and I don’t know it just started working again so here I am.”
The Team Oyama fighter doesn’t necessarily have to fight, as he has set himself up substantially for life after the Octagon with several business ventures including: Therapy Cryo Salon, a podcast, a clothing brand, a charity gig and more.
“No, I don’t have to do anything. I really like fighting and I’m in the process of investing my money smartly,” said McCall. “I’ve got my podcast, I’ve got my charity show, I’ve got my radio show – I do this because there is something inherently wrong with me. I like violence, I like fighting, I like competition and I might as well fit in a few more fights before I get too old and I had really given up because my body had failed me again and again and again. Now that it’s not failing me and my coach is actually letting me train; we’re training smarter, we’ve always trained very hard and that hasn’t worked out for me, so now I kind of train at my own pace, everything is very calculated and I use different little things like the Omega Wave to check out each of my little systems every morning. I have a good system going, nice and easy and I’m in great shape. As long as I don’t take too much punishment in camp, I know how to fight, I just got to get in shape.”
Scoggins wasn’t a name that was at the forefront of McCall’s head, but it’s something his coach really wanted, so he couldn’t refuse. From a stylistic standpoint, he thinks it will definitely be fireworks.
“It was a name that just got brought up and he has beaten one of my teammates, Josh Sampo and my coach said I want the fight and I said yes sir, whatever you want.
“It’s definitely going to be a fun fist fight that’s for sure. It’s a good stylistic match-up – me doing Muay Thai vs. him doing his Karate styling, it’s going to be a good time. I’m excited to kind of show the world that I’m still as good as everyone knows I am – I’m still around.”
In this day and age, and at his age in the sport, McCall could easily put up some outstanding super-fights. But if he were to choose, this isn’t his cup of tea at this point in time. The title picture, not super-fights, is what McCall has his sights set on.
“The title picture is always the main thing and it always will be. Only very few people can say I want a super-fight, that’s something you have to be able to earn and you have to beat a lot of people before you do that kind of stuff and I’m not at that point right now. Sure, would I love a fight with Dominick [Cruz] or whoever else is going to make me a bunch of money – fuck I’ll fight Conor McGregor I don’t give a shit. You going to pay me, I’ll do it, but as a fighter and a person that loves this business and everything that comes with it, I have to have the title again, I was there once.”
At one point in time, the former number one contender dogged UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson so much it became everyday talk, in every interview he was in. This is not the case anymore, as he truly believes that “Mighty Mouse” deserves all the respect in the world for the skill and talent he has inside the Octagon.
“He deserves super-fights, if anyone deserves a super-fight and they can get paid a lot of money, it’s DJ. It is very frustrating when he says I want a super-fight but I want two or three million dollars. That’s cute man, but you’re the best pound for pound fighter in the world and all you want is two or three million dollars. I know he’s not a good businessman and all that, but you got to reach for the stars, you got to push it. I’m the first person to say, I have the only right to lay claim to making fun of Demetrious and talking shit and I’ve stopped because the guy deserves some respect and he deserves to start making some more money.
“I figure if I can rattle off a couple good wins – I can starch Scoggins and maybe fight Joe [Benavidez] again and knock him out then people will be clamoring for me to get that title shot.”
With Johnson beating every single contender in the 125-pound rankings, and if he gets passed Reis in the co-main event at UFC 201, then super-fights seem to make the most sense for one of the pound for pound kings. McCall hopes that he is still at the top of his division when he climbs his way back to contention, as that is the guy he wants to scrap.
“I want to beat Demetrious, that’s the guy.”