Ian McCall is not a fighter who battles against the grain with noticeable effort; unlike Conor McGregor, Tito Ortiz, or Chael Sonnen, he will not stand on a box and raise his voice to attract an audience, but will take a seat, lean back, and cross his legs before delivering his unfiltered analysis of the topic at hand with a calculated grin on his face, because as a free thinker he is well aware that the only man capable of governing his thoughts is himself. This weekend, he aims to solidify his status as the most dynamic contender in the UFC’s flyweight division.
On January 31, McCall (13-4-1) takes on Brazilian John Lineker (24-7) at UFC 183 with both fighters bidding to face UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
This battle of top-10 contenders sits noticeably low on the evening’s card. Despite the possible implications and known excitement that each fighter brings to the cage, McCall (#3) and Lineker (#7) find themselves placed second on the preliminary card, and the Californian suspects that a higher authority may be trying to send a message.
“I don’t know if they’re trying to prove a point because I’m a naughty boy,” McCall told Niall McGrath on the Talking Brawls Podcast. “I just keep going against the grain and maybe this is my slap on the hand, I don’t know.”
McCall understands that his fate is very much in the hands of UFC officials, the former Tachi Palace Fights champion believes his promoters have the ability to make a superstar of whoever they pick, and that he possesses each of the required facets, both in and out of the cage, to bring light to the UFC’s most under appreciated division, and over shadow Johnson, the current 125lb ruler. Regardless of whether or not he’s being sent a message to keep in line, McCall plans on proving himself in order to force his rightful place with undeniable results in the octagon.
“UFC chooses who they want to make a superstar, they have the money, they have everything that one would need to create a superstar so if they wanted to create a superstar at flyweight, they could do it at any weight.
“Conor [McGregor], I guess he is a perfect example, because they took an already solid foundation of an awesome fighter who’s not a bad looking guy, he talks very well, he makes those ridiculous predictions and the whole thing works, but he would just be another guy who has a big mouth who can fight if UFC don’t back him the way they do.
“Lets say I’m the most marketable guy in the division, which I obviously believe; they could make me a superstar if they wanted to, but I guess I have to prove myself as that commodity, as that person, and once I do I truly believe their whole stance on everything will turn around. I guess it just comes down to me going out there and proving how good I really am, and then they’ll run with it.”
McCall has faced reigning flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (21-2-1) on two occasions previously. On March 3, 2012 the duo faced off in the flyweight tournament semi-finals, but the fight was declared a ‘majority draw’. Many believe that McCall did enough to force a stoppage of which he was denied, and the rematch came shortly after on June 8; this time Johnson walked away with the unanimous decision victory and advanced to face Joseph Benavidez in the final.
With five title defenses to his name, and the majority coming with relative ease, Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson has established himself as one of the UFC’s top pound-for pound champions; however, the division remains less than compelling to a number of fans and fighters alike who feel that Johnson, while exceptionally talented, simply doesn’t draw attention to the flyweight landscape.
“Demetrious, in a perfect world, he would be the best employee because he just shuts up and does his job. He does it well, he’s incredibly well rounded, but from a business standpoint with the human condition being as it is, we need some substance and he is substance free.
“He’s just a boring character, but he does his job. He’s fine with just making the money he makes, going home, training and being a family man, and that’s fine. I don’t know what he gets paid but I’m sure it’s enough, he’s obviously happy. If he were me, I guarantee I’d be making, triple, quadruple, five-time what ‘D.J’ makes, inside and outside the cage.
“Whether you’re Joseph Benavidez and the rest of the fraternity of Alpha Male, and you think I would be a bad champion, either way I’m going to be champion, and if I’m good or bad I’m going to get paid for it.”
While McCall isn’t certain of being granted a title shot with victory this weekend, he aims to progress as quickly as possible, and believes the current champion sees him as the greatest threat.
“‘D.J’ knows I’m coming for him. I read his analysis of me in this fight, he knows I’m coming, he’s not a dummy. He knows that I’m the one who’s going to come get him, it’s going to be a fun run at him, I can’t wait to get my hands on him again.”
On Saturday night McCall takes on 25-year-old John Lineker who steps into the Octagon as a proven knockout threat with four of his five UFC wins coming via TKO. While McCall is indeed the more rounded fighter, the 30-year-old aims to starve his opponent of any opportunity to stand and trade, and plans to inflict blissful, sadistic punishment on the ground.
“I’d be a dummy to say I’m gonna go in there and play his game and bang it out. I know I’m a better kickboxer than he is, I know I’m a better mixed martial arts striker than he is. He’s a one trick pony, it’s a hell of a trick he’s got, but why even deal with it when I can just put him on his back and choke him silly, or take his arm for some sort of currency for me to trade later on in life.
“Not to say his Jiu Jitsu sucks, but comparatively, it kinda sucks. He’s somewhat active off his back, I’ve seen him throw elbows and deal with some sort of submissions.
“My top game is second to none, not only in the division, I think in the sport in general, I think I’ve got one of the best top games and ground-and-pound the sport has ever seen. I don’t want to compare myself to people like Fedor, but I’m going to. If I can let loose, no one’s going to stop me, I’m going to go in there and put him out.
“For some reason I really want to choke him, I just have this incessant urge to just choke him to death, and pounding his face will be fun because that will make him give it to me. It’s nice to hit someone so hard that they give you their neck. Carla [Esparza] did it with Rose [Namajunas], and I’ve done it before with people. If you can punish someone enough where they give you things, it’s a lot of fun.”
In contrast to Lineker, McCall is yet to claim victory via stoppage in the UFC, and while his abilities in the cage are frequently among the best and most entertaining in the division, a quick finish is something he now craves, as the stoppage loving UFC audience can be unfairly unappreciative of fighters who become known for going the distance.
“I would like to finish it as fast as possible. I have this gut feeling than I’m gonna put him on his back and he’s gonna give me what I want. I’m dying for it, it’s not what I need to do, it’s what I have to do.”
McCall’s last outing came on July 19 last year when the UFC ventured to Dublin, Ireland. British favourite Brad Pickett needed just one more victory to earn a shot at the title, but McCall put on a highlight performance to clinically out perform Pickett throughout every round. To many, McCall’s movements looked better than ever.
“There was a couple fights where I guess I thought I was John Lineker, I wanted to bang it out with ‘D.J’, I had to chase ‘D.J’ around, and I had to bang it out with Joe [Benavidez]. I wasn’t playing to my strengths; I am fast, I am technically sound, and it’s fun to prove it, to show people how fast I really am, to show that ‘D.J’ isn’t the only fast person in the division, John Dodson isn’t the only explosive person in the division, and to finally be able to put it all together and realistically make myself a real mixed martial artist, to show the world what mixed martial arts should look like.”
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