UFC’s “Uncle Creepy” And Judging Blunder Down Under
By Tom Taylor
There’s a new face in the UFC. It’s five feet, five inches from the ground, featuring a moustache that could make Don Frye feel insecure. It’s the face of Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall, one of the four men to enter the UFC’s inaugural flyweight (125 pounds) tournament, and one of the three men left standing in it.
Unfortunately, a blunder by the judges at UFC on FX 2 in Sydney, Australia, forced a draw between McCall and his opponent, Demetrious Johnson. The judges’ error managed to bypass the potential for a “sudden victory” round, a new rule created for the precise purpose of avoiding a draw.
So, where there were once expected to be two men, three now remain. McCall and Johnson are set to rematch in the near future to settle their draw, and the winner will go on to face Joseph Benavidez for flyweight gold. Despite a repeat of the biggest fight of his career on the horizon, McCall took the time to speak with Full Contact Fighter to discuss his life, inside and outside the octagon.
His infatuation with combat sports blossomed early in his life, he says, having been exposed to martial arts at a mere four or five years old.
“I was always in martial arts. My older brother fought professionally, and your older brother is the coolest person in the world, to you at least,” he said. “It was just something I really wanted to do.”
Despite his history in martial arts, McCall’s road to the UFC was long. Having fought as a bantamweight in the now defunct WEC, he later competed in the Tachi Palace Fights promotion, where he solidified his status as the world’s premier flyweight by dethroning Jussier da Silva.
UFC executives had long flirted with the idea of introducing a flyweight division, and when they finally did, McCall was one of the first men to receive a phone call, signing with the UFC just days before word of the new division was announced publicly. It was a moment he’d been dreaming of for a long time.
“It feels great, you know, to finally have a real relevance in this sport, and the world I guess, making money, and being able to provide for my family,” he said. “I get a lot of press, and a lot of love from everybody, it’s been a great, great experience. You know, to actually get respect for something that you’ve work so hard for.”
McCall’s first fight inside the storied octagon initially left him with a bad taste in his mouth. Before the fight was ruled a draw, it was announced as a decision win for Johnson. The decision, albeit incorrect and later rectified, was crushing for McCall, driving him to storm from the octagon in frustration.
“I was really pissed off. I thought it was bullshit,” he said.
Despite the confusion, the fight itself was a barn burner. The two men clashed at breakneck speeds from bell to bell, scrambling and executing combos at a rate that other divisions rarely exhibit.
Even an entertaining scrap between main-eventers Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann could not steal fight-of-the-night honors from the pair of tenacious flyweights. Win, lose, or draw, the fight was a flattering kickoff to the division, a fact McCall is well aware of.
“It’ll go down in the record books, and that’s awesome. It was an honor, it’s really cool. It feels great to be part of something like that, to be the first,” he explained. “I proved my worth. I’m a legitimate fighter and a legitimate threat to this weight class. I think everyone thought DJ would take the whole thing, or Joe would take the whole thing, well in my eyes I kind of beat up on him, so I figure this is my time and my weight class so I’m going to make the most of it.”
For all the sceptics out there who feel that the lighter divisions sacrifice striking power in favour of speed, McCall promises otherwise.
“Demetrious is the first guy I haven’t dropped with punches or spinning elbows, or whatever, in my entire career. I put everyone on their butt, you know. We have knockout power. People don’t give us enough love I guess. Well we’ll show it.
“I think that this weight class has all the tools to be something great. People are going to look at us differently than they would 135ers. There’s so much talent there but I think that not only are we stealing half the talent, but we’re bringing in a lot of other guys that are really good,” McCall explained, breaking down his expectations of the new division. “Plus Dominic [Cruz] has already got most of those guys anyway.”
McCall banks on his fighting style as a catalyst for a continued procession of exciting fights. Some might describe his style by citing his frenetic speed. Others may mention his wrestling credentials. For the man himself, however, only one word is needed for this description.
“Violent,” he said, with seriousness.
His newest tattoo, penned across his hand, references this violent style. It’s Shakespeare, a quote that suits his life as a prize fighter to a tee. “These violent delights have violent ends,” it reads. If the coupling of his violent style and the depth of his technique carry him to the flyweight belt, it will be the culmination of his career thus far.
“Just like everybody else says, it’s a dream come true. It’s something to aspire to. It’s greatness.”
His desires for a championship are powerful, but these desires still ride shotgun to being a provider for his daughter, his wife, and his two dogs. At his roots, he’s a family man—he was out buying smoothies with his daughter as he spoke to Full Contact Fighter.
Fans may sometimes forget that the athletes who bludgeon each other for our amusement are, at the end of the day, people. McCall’s life stretches far beyond the bright lights and deafening roars of the crowd that ensue from his job.
For his fans, who will likely never get to know him on a personal level, McCall summarized his personality outside the cage.
“Most people see me as a nice guy, but I’m pretty f**ked up in the head,” he joked. “I just wanna have fun. And if it’s at someone else’s expense, then so be it,” he continued, displaying a personality that seems tailored for a cage fighter.
Assertions of a wild mind aside, the importance the flyweight contender places on friends and family were evident. Even his nickname, he says, is a product of these relationships.
One of the stranger nicknames in a sport that boasts some seriously bizarre ones, McCall’s was derived quite innocently. His friend’s son has always called him ‘Uncle Ian’. One night as McCall tried to tire the hyperactive youngster out before bedtime; ‘Uncle Ian’ gave way to the nickname ‘Uncle Creepy’. Kids say the darndest things.
The flyweight has friends in high places, too. His signature walkout songs are all by the metal band Avenged Sevenfold. While he does enjoy their songs, his main reason for walking out to them is a long friendship with the band members.
If you want to be his friend too, buy him a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label, his favourite whisky. If you catch him at a restaurant, buy him some sushi; it’s his favorite food.
A man with humble interests and an unfaltering dedication to his family, McCall is at the end of the day a fighter—and he loves his job. It’s a job that most of us aren’t brave enough to devote ourselves to, but for McCall, fighting is an innate part of him.
“It’s something deep-seated in every person, whether they enjoy watching it or doing it,” he said. “It’s winning. You want to win. You want to have the glory. It’s just that feeling of you and one other person and you’ve got something to prove. Maybe I’ve always felt I have something to prove. Now especially—I’ve got a lot to prove.”