by Adam Martin
Ian McCall is one of the top five flyweight fighters on the planet, but this weekend at UFC 163 he’ll be in a must-win position if he wants to keep his spot on the UFC roster.
The 29-year-old is 0-2-1 in the UFC thus far with losses to UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and top contender Joseph Benavidez, along with another draw to Johnson. But since they are the top two fighters in the division, McCall has been given a match against Iliarde Santos despite the fact the promotion has had a shorter leash with other flyweights like Yasuhiro Urushitani and Ulysses Gomez, who were both cut after going 0-2.
If McCall drops this matchup against Santos, who is a complete unknown, and drops his record to 0-3-1 in the process, there would be no way the UFC could justify keeping him on the roster any longer because, even though his talent his obvious and he’s a fan favorite, going winless in four fights just isn’t UFC calibre.
I feel bad for McCall because that draw against Johnson was only due to the Australian athletic commission overseeing the event screwing up in tallying the judges’ scorecards. That bout, which took place at UFC on FX 2, was part of the flyweight tournament semifinals and was held under special rules that said a fight scored a draw after three rounds would go into a fourth, sudden-death round. But the commission tallied up the scores wrong and Johnson was declared the winner by split decision, only to realize after it was too late that the fight should have been a draw instead.
McCall was dominating Johnson in the third round of that fight and definitely had the momentum going into the fourth round, had there been one like there should have been. And had he won that fourth round, he would have went on to fight Benavidez in the finals of the flyweight tournament, and who knows what could have happened — he may be the UFC flyweight champion right now.
But MMA turns on a dime and for McCall, one commission’s error has set his career backwards. Hopefully for his sake, though, he can overcome the adversity and make a run for the title like he really should be doing, and it all starts with a win over Santos this weekend at UFC 163. His career depends on it.
What are your thoughts?