TORONTO - It was only three years ago that Ian (Uncle Creepy) McCall lay dead on an operating table.
Despite being a well-known fighter who had competed in the WEC and recently lost a unanimous decision to now-UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, McCall struggled with substance abuse throughout his career. When it came time to a fight, he would clean up, but then return to his rock-star lifestyle once the bout was over.
McCall only managed to kick his addiction after an overdose nearly cost him his life.
“I was actually sober for a little bit. I was doing better and then I saw an opportunity to get high,” McCall told QMI Agency. “So I just took a cocktail of things and I woke up two days later in the hospital. I ended up spending about a week in the hospital.
“After that, I was like, ‘Okay, no more playing around.’ It was just an awakening because I woke up with my dad and my brother hovering over me, (and they were) just like, ‘You’re an idiot.’ Because they knew I was doing well.”
The cocktail in question contained oxycontin, GHB, Xanax, marijuana and alcohol. Thankfully doctors were able to revive him and roughly one week after getting released from hospital, McCall was back in the gym. It was then he decided to pour everything he had into his fighting career.
“You have slip-ups and mine was bad,” McCall said. “I learned from it, definitely.
“That’s why I am truthful about my story. If I can help somebody ... people have told me I’ve helped them.
“I wasn’t an AA guy. I went to church and then I found the gym. The gym kept me away from those kind of things and it still does to this day, granted now I have a family. I have a wife, a daughter and a career. I know I can never go back to that.
“People don’t give themselves enough credit. They think they can never get out of it. You just need to focus and bust your ass to do it.”
McCall’s efforts have certainly paid off as he is currently ranked the top 125-pound fighter in the world. He is set to rematch Demetrious (Mighty Mouse) Johnson in the main event of UFC on FX 3 in Sunrise, Fla., on Friday. The winner will face Joseph Benavidez to crown the first-ever UFC flyweight champion.
McCall and Johnson originally met as part of the flyweight tournament semifinal at UFC on FX 2 in Sydney, Australia, on March 3. That same night, Benavidez knocked out Yasuhiro Urushitani on the other side of the bracket.
Prior to the tourney bouts, the UFC announced an overtime fourth round would be utilized in the event of a draw.
Johnson was initially ruled the winner via majority decision, but the bout was actually scored a majority draw. It was later revealed the head of the Combat Sports Authority of New South Wales tallied the scorecards wrong. Judge Sal D’Amato had awarded McCall a 10-8 for almost finishing Johnson with ground-and-pound in the third, but it was recorded as 10-9.
Since both fighters had already left the cage when the oversight was discovered, the only option was to book an immediate rematch.
McCall admitted had he not opted to showboat while raining down punches on Johnson, he would have secured the TKO victory.
“I was hoping it would go to a fourth,” McCall said. “I knew I was going to finish him. I think I could have finished him in the third if I would have stopped screwing around and done it. I was having too much fun, I guess. I definitely felt him wilt in the third round. I felt him break.”
McCall said Johnson’s only hope of winning is by decision.
“I think I showed he couldn’t really hurt me last time,” McCall said. “He hit me with some good shots and knocked me down. I was a little off-balance when he hit me, so it looked a lot worse than it was. But I had a smile on my face.
“I hate to use it as a knock against him because he’s a great fighter, but I just don’t think he has the power to finish me.”
McCall’s coming bout with Johnson marks the first rematch of his career. He said he’s tired of having to focus on the same opponent for so long.
“I’m sick of this one,” McCall said. “I want to get this over with and move on. I want to finish this. Really, that’s a better wording: I want to finish this, put my stamp on it and move on to greater things.”
Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson went to a majority draw at UFC on FX 2 in Sydney, Australia, on March 3. The bout should have gone to an overtime round, but a scoring error originally resulted in Johnson being awarded a majority-decision victory.
Judge, Wrong Tally, Final Score
Sal D’Amato, 29-28 (Johnson), 28-28
Anthony Dimitriou, 29-29, 29-29
Kon Papaioannou, 29-28 (Johnson), 29-28 (Johnson)
RUBBER MATCH ON TAP
Sam (Hands of Stone) Stout admits he requested a rubber match with Spencer Fisher.
“I always kind of figured it would happen, it just needed to be the right time,” Stout told QMI Agency. “We’re both coming off losses to the same opponent (Thiago Tavares), so I kind of actively pursued the fight. I got it, so it’s time to make it happen.
“I kind of always figured there needed to be some closure to that rivalry. We’re going to get it June 22.
“I’ve been training really hard for this fight, so I don’t want to lose this one.”
Stout meets Fisher in the co-main event of UFC on FX 4 in Atlantic City, N.J. The card will be headlined by a lightweight scrap between Gray Maynard and Clay Guida.
Their rivalry dates back more than six years ago, as Stout won an exciting split decision over Fisher at UFC 58 on Mar. 4, 2006. Fisher then evened the score 15 months later, snagging a unanimous decision in yet another thrilling battle.
Stout said that long after he and Fisher have retired, fans will still look back fondly on their encounters.
“Regardless of how it goes, whether I win or lose, it’s going to be a trilogy that’s remembered,” Stout said. “If it ended after the second one, it would be something people remembered because I don’t go a month without somebody mentioning it to me. So it’s obviously something that sticks out in people’s minds.”
A lot has changed since their previous fight. Fisher has lost four of his past five and is currently on a two-fight skid. Stout said he wouldn’t be surprised if Fisher utilizes more grappling this time out.
“In both of the last two fights, we had wars,” Stout said. “I can’t imagine he just wants to stand and go punch-for-punch anymore. He’s getting a little bit older and I certainly expect him to go for some takedowns. I think he thinks he can beat me on the ground.
“I’m prepared for the best possible Spencer Fisher. I’m still watching all his tapes. There’s a lot to study up on. I’m going to look at the one where he looks his best and that’s the Spencer Fisher I’m going to prepare for.”
MACHINE WANTS REVENGE ON YAGIN
Mark (The Machine) Hominick isn’t one to call out other fighters.
But the former featherweight title challenger is gunning for another crack at Eddie Yagin and he wants it at UFC 152 in Toronto on Sept. 22.
“I’d like a rematch with Eddie Yagin,” Hominick told QMI Agency. “It makes sense because we got “fight of the night,” it was a fight that could have went either way and I think I won. That would be a big fight here in Canada.
“I’d like to get a win for the Toronto fans. That’s all I can do: Train and prepare for that.”
The two engaged in an exciting stand-up battle at UFC 145 in Atlanta on April 21. After three hard-fought rounds, two judges awarded the bout to Yagin. At the time, Hominick felt robbed. After going back and reviewing the tape, he still feels his hand should have been raised.
“I watched it once because I wanted to make sure that my opinion that I won was right,” Hominick said. “After watching it, I still think I won.
“If I’d have got the win, he’d be saying the same thing to his friends. Any kind of decision, split decision, you always think you won — but whatever. It is what it is. He got the decision and my hat goes off to him.”
STANN OUT OF FOX EVENT
A shoulder injury has forced Brian Stann out of the UFC on FOX 4 main event against former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard.
MMAFighting.com is reporting Stann will not require surgery, but is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks. His most recent outing saw him score a first-round knockout over Alessio Sakara at UFC on FUEL TV 2 in April.
A replacement opponent has yet to be named for Lombard, who is the first and only 185-pound titleholder in Bellator history. Prior to signing with the UFC, the Cuban slugger earned a TKO victory over Trevor Prangley in November.
UFC on FOX 4 goes down Aug. 4 in Los Angeles. Lyoto Machida is scheduled to meet Ryan Bader in the co-main event.
JOSE RODRIGUEZ’S RANT
It will be the biggest fight of his young career and a victory will put him in the top 10 of his class.
Rory MacDonald — who at 22 has already had his hand raised in the UFC Octagon four times — will get his wish to fight B.J. Penn.
The Kelowna native told the MMA Hour this week that he has great admiration for the retired Penn and would love to fight him.
“He’s a legend. I think it’d be a really good matchup for me to have that fight in Toronto,” he said.
Shortly thereafter, Penn accepted.
Now, there’s no official contract and nothing’s set in stone but the odds are very good that the battle will take place at Toronto’s UFC 152 in September.
Admiration aside, the fight is a great opportunity for the strong, relentless 170-pounder to break into the elite list of welterweights.
The two fighters are on opposite trajectories.
MacDonald is riding a three-fight win streak while Penn has only mustered one win in his past five starts.
Penn was so frustrated with his recent record, that he announced he was hanging up his gloves following his loss to Nick Diaz in October.
But the former two-belt champ still carries a world of MMA credibility and a win over him would open the door to top-name contenders for MacDonald.
Regardless of the outcome, the true winners will be the fans who get to see one of world’s greatest fighters return to the cage.