November 8, 2014 was a rough day for Ian McCall. After an intense training camp, he weighed in at the contractual weight, but was battling a blood infection and was ultimately forced to withdraw from his Fight Night 56 bout in the eleventh hour. It was a decision that ended up leaving a sour taste in his mouth, as he had battled through many an injury in the cage--especially notable is the difficulties he's had with hand breaks-and never had to withdraw from a fight in this fashion before.
His opponent at the time, John Lineker, was paid his show/win money, and the fight was scrapped in lieu of booking a later date for the bout. Now, it's fight week, and the two flyweight contenders are set to do very violent things in the Octagon this Saturday night at UFC 183.
Bloody Elbow caught up with McCall recently, who discussed his upcoming fight, the UFC's need to push the flyweight division more, his opinion of Team Alpha Male, the importance of using the cage to maintain control in close quarters and his unreasonable fear of horses. His thoughts on Lineker are direct and concise. The ultimate end goal? Choke him unconscious.
John Lineker is basic. His game plan consists of moving straight forward and throwing big, heavy shots at the head. He's going to put everything into them, so all I have to do is stay active and make him miss, and touch him on the feet in the process. From there, I'll put him on the ground and choke him unconscious.
With hand issues that have presented on more than one occasion, the 29-year-old feels that he's in good shape going into this fight, even if down the road it may require more work.
My hand is okay. It's better than it was, and I can still beat the Hell out of somebody with it, so I guess that's all that matters. I'll be honest, it's eventually going to break again and need another surgery, but as of right now, I can make a pretty good fist. With everything this hand has been through, it's holding up much better than I could have hoped.
The UFC marketing machine has once again proven that when they want to create a star, they do it and they do it well. Featherweight contender, Conor McGregor is a perfect example of what happens when the cogs and wheels are put into motion. If they were to apply that with one or two guys from each division, they'd always see Ironman numbers, a fact McCall has not let go unnoticed.
You know, they can create a star any time they want. In the flyweight division, I feel like I'm the most marketable guy. I know I'm the best. I know it. I'll let my performances do the talking, and eventually, they'll want to create a star out of me.
Recently, Ian's ex-wife was allegedly involved in a physical skirmish with Mayhem Miller, which became public via Twitter. When asked for his take on the matter, he chose the high road.
It's none of my business. That's her personal choices, negative or otherwise. I haven't been with her for three years and I am happy with my girlfriend, whom I've been with for about the last two years, so I try to stay away from her drama. I've blocked her on all my social media and anyone that tries to open discussion about her or our past, gets blocked. I did the whole verbal diarrhea thing when we first split up, and I want to take a more adult approach to all things in my life moving forward.
Team Alpha Male member, Joe Benavides recently commented that he felt McCall would make a terrible champion. Here's what "Uncle Creepy" had to say about it.
I've never had a problem with Joe, but apparently, he has something to say. Team Alpha Male are nice guys, but they come off as the douchiest camp, and I've told some of their guys this. They're the douchebag frat guys of MMA. They walk around flexing with their shirts off, bumping chests and just seem like they would be the guys that would try to bang your girlfriend when your back is turned. Good for you, you're the coolest guys in Sacramento. There's only one of you that's ever going to be champion, and that's T.J. Dillashaw, and they treated him like the red-headed stepchild for a while. Look at him now, though. He's the man.
Maintaining control of a fight can be a tricky thing to accomplish, and is a factor that some fighters completely overlook. Ian looks at it as an art, and gave some insight on his use of the cage to maintain control in close quarters.
Octagon control is a big deal and people don't use it nearly enough, especially using the cage itself to your advantage. When you're in a phone booth against the fence, you can effective use knees, elbows, foot stomps, shoulder checks...you can use these whether your back is to the cage or your opponent's back is. When you're not in close, you can still use the cage to leverage yourself for bigger moves, as Anthony Pettis showed everyone with his famous kick. The cage can turn a crappy wrestler into a good wrestler.
With Ian's UFC success, and now Carla Esparza's title, Team Oyama has begun getting the recognition they deserve, and has found their classes full to capacity these days.
People have started coming to us to get sparring practice in and we're at capacity in all our classes. We're a full service gym and a large facility, and with Carla and me, and when Shane was alive, all being in the UFC, we've seen a lot of growth in our numbers. We have a lot of random, no-name guys, but those random no-names will kick the crap out of you. They're the people that helped make Carla and me as good as we are.
Colin and Giva are the best. How many people can say that they've hand built 2 UFC champions (Tito Ortiz started with and won his first title under Colin Oyama)? Soon, it will be three. He built all of us and a plethora of other guys, not just in MMA, but in Muay Thai and kickboxing, as well. Shane was the first American to win the WBC Muay Thai heavyweight title.
Having Carla at the gym is just awesome. She's like my kid sister and she brings a lot to the gym. We know we had something special in her from the first time she stepped into the gym when she was like 17 years old. I don't know if people have seen the trophy case at the gym, but soon, we're going to have to put nametags on all the belts [laughs].
I occasionally like to pose a personal question or two when interviewing athletes. This time, I asked two. The first being if there was a dream lottery, and Ian could pick one or two fighters to transfer to his team permanently, who would they be. The second question was, do you have any phobias or unreasonable fears of anything in particular. Here's how he answered the final questions:
A couple names come to mind. I think because we have such a Hawaiian feel at our gym, you know Colin is Hawaiian, Shane was Hawaiian...we have a very "Ohana" feel at the gym, so B.J. Penn would be my first choice. He is one of the greatest, most talented people on the planet, and I think he would bring a lot to the table.
I would like to learn how to get into the Matrix from Anderson Silva. He's got the jiu-jitsu and the length, and his kickboxing is just on another level. Shane was a world class kickboxer and he had the opportunity to do some practices with Anderson. He told me that he felt like a child in there against him. He's technically proficient at just about everything.
As far as fears go, and this is crazy because my family has always owned them, but I'm terrified of horses. One wrong move with a horse and you're becoming one with the earth. They're beautiful. They're majestic. No thanks, I'll pass.
You can catch Ian's fight with John Lineker live this Saturday night via UFC PPV or at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.