When Ian McCall came to the UFC in 2012, it was with the expectation that the reigning Tachi Palace champion would be an instant title contender. And it was an expectation he met head-on with a botched draw against current flyweight all-time-great Demetrious Johnson in the promotion’s division-opening 4-man tournament.
The two men met again 3-months later to settle the score and Johnson took a unanimous decision on his way to winning the title he still holds. Things haven’t really gone to plan for McCall since then, however. ‘Uncle Creepy’ dropped a 2013 bout to Joseph Benavidez after recovering from a knee injury, then took home a less than inspiring decision over Iliarde Santos. Over the next four years he would fight just two times, dropping out of six bouts due to injury or illness and scrapping three more due to opponents pulling out at the last minute.
Now – having not competed since 2015 – McCall’s time in the UFC is done. He announced that he had asked for, and received, his release from the promotion in an interview on the MMA Hour (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“I’m a free agent now. If I’m gonna fight, I want to fight for at least $100,000 — 50 and 50 is fine,” McCall said.
“I’m gonna take this, go to a different market and see if it works,” McCall said.
As to what a “different market” might mean? McCall sounds like he’s more or less open to anything, even if anything includes taking money from unscrupulous political figures like Ramzan Kadyrov and his Akhmat MMA promotion (transcript via ESPN).
"People say, 'You don't care that it's blood money?' I don't give a flying f--- that it's blood money. You can pay me in blood diamonds," McCall said. "I get into a cage and fistfight for money. I don't care. I don't live there.
"Of course what [Kadyrov]'s doing is wrong. I don't agree with it and would say it to his face, but it's none of my business. My business is to go over there and fistfight. That's it. Sure, war is bad and guys like that do evil s---. But I don't care."
Kadyrov has come under heavy fire most recently for the reportedly state-sanctioned persecution of bisexual and homosexual populations in Chechnya. However, he is also an avid MMA fan with strong ties to several notable UFC talents. Beyond homegrown fighters like Abdul-Kerim Edilov and Magomed Bibulatov, the infamous leader has established relationships with Fabricio Werdum, Frank Mir, Frankie Edgar, Chris Weidman and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Of course, if he’s searching for big paydays, McCall’s options are already going to be somewhat limited. Especially in the US, where the other major contender for talent, Bellator, has shown no public interest in the division. That may mean that the next time fans see Ian McCall step into the cage it will be well away from home soil.