At this point, Ian McCalls struggles getting from camp to cage are well known. Despite being part of the UFC’s inaugural flyweight tournament back in 2012, “Uncle Creepy” has only fought six times for the promotion. In-between those six bouts he’s suffered a knee injury, a hand injury, a groin/hip injury, and a viral infection. That’s enough to give any fighter pause about their career. But, McCall’s latest run of bad luck has made those past problems seem almost insignificant.
Back in August of 2015, McCall was scheduled to fight Dustin Ortiz, before withdrawing due to injury. Almost exactly a year later McCall’s planned bout with Justin Scoggins was cancelled at the last minute, as Scoggins couldn’t make weight. Soon after, a bout with Ray Borg fell through, when Borg became ill just days out from the fight. Go forward another two months and this time it was McCall dropping out due to illness against Neil Seery, and another three months after that, it happened again.
McCall’s planned fight at UFC 208 against newcomer Jarred Brooks was cancelled just hours before the event. This time the culprit was a shrunken galbladder. McCall described his battle to stay in the fight and deal with his condition on a recent episode of Joe Rogan’s Fight Companion (transcript starts at the beginning of the episode via MMA Fighting):
“I’ve never made weight that easy in my entire career. You ask anybody, usually you stop drinking water 24 hours out from weigh-ins. I cut weight Thursday night and it was going so well that I had five glasses of ice water throughout the night. So then I figured I could eat a little bit. So I tried to eat a little bit of salad and I threw that up. But I figured that was just the dressing or something messing my stomach up. So I had at least a cup of almonds, about five cups of water, I cut the rest in the morning and then when I was trying to gain weight back my body wouldn’t. I couldn’t hold on to anything. I kept throwing up everything...
“By the next morning, I had still only gained five pounds. Everything I tried to eat, I threw up. And I was throwing up in front of all the other fighters. Every single chance we ended up having to be in a group in public, I ended up f**king throwing up.”
After that, McCall ended up going to the hospital where he got some less than comforting words from the physicians:
“I asked them, I’m like. ‘Listen, just let me fight...’ And they looked at me like, ‘No dude, you need to go to the hospital.’ Then they were gonna do emergency gallbladder surgery which they didn’t have to do thank god. This whole thing scared the s**t out of me. When the doctor says, ‘Oh well you could die, you never know,’ I’m like, what the f**k do you mean you never know?”
“[My gallbladder] was super shrunk - contracted. I guess [from the dehydration]. And then they saw shadowing and some other stuff [on the tests] and they thought I had gall stones... Then they did a more advanced version of the ultrasound and they didn’t see anything so they didn’t have to do [surgery]. So basically we’re just running tests, been running tests all week.
“I’m still skinny. I went home a day later than I was supposed to go home and I was still under 135 pounds - 132 pounds. I wasn’t able to hold food down until Tuesday. My body just f**kin’ failed me.”
That sounds like an exceptionally serious side effect to weight cutting, and the kind of thing that McCall may not be able to afford happening to him again. UFC welterweight Brian Melancon was forced to retire from his MMA career after a failed weight cut in preparation to face Robert Whittaker at UFC Brisbane back in 2013. Hopefully McCall can bounce back from this, but there’s no word yet on when he’ll be fit to fight again.