This year was a good year to affirm the truth that MMA isn't a cauldron of racist skinheads, as Bob Arum famously proclaimed. The Best MMA Writing of 2011 is not just a retrospective on some of the most interesting stories of the year, but a look at the valuable architects of disclosure, and calligraphy in our growing community.
"Oh, Sherdog? Love you guys," he says, smiling through his cotton mouth. "Too bad you've got a bunch of Japanese fighters ahead of me in your rankings." - Ian McCall
Jordan Breen's feature on the currently #1 ranked Flyweight in the world starts off on the same quixotic note McCall himself seems to operate on. Within the first page we know a few things about the man set to face Demetrious Johnson for the four-man UFC Flyweight tournament, slated for March 3, 2012 at UFC on FX 2. He loves his handlebar mustache, he loves his chihuahuas, and for some strange reason that I absolutely have to question, he loves John Leguizamo's rendition of Tybalt Capulet in Romeo and Juliet
Casual viewers of the WEC might find the presence of McCall in any kind of upper echelon perplexing. When he fought a completely unheralded Charlie Valencia, the beating he took was a caricature of one. Tossed halfway across the cage with a suplex that ended up looking more like a catapult, Ian would end up getting choked out in the first three minutes of round 1 at WEC 31.
It's the only loss that feels like a real stain on his record. His only other loss is to the current and reigning BW champion, Dominick Cruz. Meanwhile, he's climbed to the top at 125 while one legend has faded (Mamoru Yamaguchi), and the man to dethrone him (Yasuhiro Urushitani, who will also participate in the UFC tournament) has taken a backseat in the rankings to McCall, and the man he beat to vault him to the top in Jussier de Silva.
McCall's deliberate pace and well rounded game feel like a far cry from a man nicknamed "Uncle Creepy", who was once an addict, and who got married on impulse. But it's also a reflection of how he's changed: a story documented brilliantly by Jordan Breen who doesn't get the opportunity to write as much as he should. Below is an interesting anecdote that could very well be the impetus for the UFC's flyweight tournament. But please read the full article here. Jordan can be found on twitter @jordanbreen.
"Hey! Where is my weight class, Sean Shelby?" McCall shouts, as he is having his hand wraps cut off, calling out the UFC matchmaker in absentia.
Perhaps McCall’s personality is rubbing off on me. I decide to call his bluff, and I hand him my cell phone, with a blank text message open to Shelby.
"Here’s your chance," I say.
McCall is undaunted. As soon as his hands are free of tape and gauze, he types away.
"Hey, pal, it’s Ian McCall ... give me my weight class."
"Hey, Jordan," a voice says behind me. I turn around, and there stands McCall’s father. I am completely confused as to how he knows my name.
"Oh, my dad is the coolest," he says, boasting. "He’s been reading Sherdog for 10 years."
Ian McCall’s family members are not just Ian McCall fans; they are MMA fans.