McCall ready to complete comeback in UFC

McCall ready to complete comeback in UFC

Published Jun. 7, 2012 7:01 p.m. ET

Everybody knows UFC flyweight Ian McCall by his nickname: “Uncle Creepy.”

That’s an interesting story by itself.

But “The Comeback Kid” might be the more accurate moniker for the 27-year-old McCall, the guy with the handlebar mustache.

And that’s where this story, which includes a Los Angeles-area rich kid and his drug overdose, gets even more interesting.

“Oh, man, I died,” McCall said. “I overdosed on drugs a couple of years ago, before I made my comeback. I woke up in the hospital a couple of days later.  . . . It was a serious drug overdose. I was in the hospital for like a week. I took a big combination of far too many things. And my dad and my brother were sitting there like, ‘Are you done?’ ”

He says he is.

“I’m just done with it all,” said McCall, a husband and father. “I’ve got too much to lose. I’ve got a family, and I’ve got my career. There’s just too much at stake. It’s really not a hard choice for me.”

McCall isn’t your typical professional MMA fighter, whatever that might be. He’s cerebral, a recovering drug addict, introspective, funny, self-deprecating, tough, a self-described “attention whore,” a husband and father.

Strangely enough, part of McCall’s downfall stems from when he was a wrestler at Cuesta (Calif.) College, sleeping on the couch of his best friend, Antonio Banuelos, and MMA legend Chuck Liddell. McCall was there firsthand to witness Liddell’s rise to greatness.

“It’s all I wanted, it’s all I ever wanted,” McCall said of the fame. “I fought in WEC and I thought I was a rock star. I was on drugs, just a degenerate back then. I was a dumb kid.”

Liddell remembers those times back in the day when McCall was sleeping on his couch.

“It was just one of those things,” he said. “He’s a tough kid, he’d work hard and train. And then he’d go off the deep end every once in a while, and you wouldn’t see him for a while. You always knew if he’d get his (expletive) together and do his thing he’d be great.”

Fast-forward to now. Things are much better, but still a bit, well, out of the ordinary.

McCall is preparing to fight Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson on Friday at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., as the headliner on the UFC on FX (9 p.m.).

The winner gets a title shot against Joseph Benavidez for the UFC's first flyweight title.

McCall-Johnson, of course, is a rematch because of the bizarre ending of their March fight. Johnson was declared the winner, but a scoring error was later discovered and the fight was declared a draw. The rub is there was a provision for a tie-breaking fourth round, a “sudden victory” round. Had the scores been tabulated correctly, the fighters would have finished their business that night.

Instead, they have a rematch, and it’s been eating away at McCall so badly that his wife, Shay, sent McCall to live with Corey Beasley, his strength and conditioning coach. It was something they’d discussed previously.

“I wasn’t being super nice to my wife,” McCall said. “She could just tell something was bothering me.  . . . She’s very supportive of my career. She knew something was wrong and she wanted me to fix it, and she knew the best thing was for me to be by myself.”

The next time you see an aerial shot of Staples Center in Los Angeles, look for the nearby Toyota dealership. It belongs to McCall’s family. It does quite well.

Shay’s family does quite well, too. They have a palatial estate in Southern California. Together, Ian and Shay also have lots of rich friends. Ian had a picture in his phone of a huge yacht that belonged to a family friend in Fort Lauderdale. They were thinking about perhaps going to the Bahamas after Friday’s fights.

Yeah, McCall lives a good life. Now.

He’s always been blessed with good friends.

He got tagged with the “Uncle Creepy” name from a friend’s son. The child used to call him “Uncle Ian,” but one day he called him “Uncle Creepy” and, unfortunately for McCall, it was within earshot of everyone. The name stuck.

At that time McCall’s career was beginning to blossom. He was winning fights, learning about his craft (he’s very much into the technical aspects of the sport), partying and having fun.

But after his loss to Dominick Cruz in January 2009 and being dropped by the WEC, things spun out of control. While getting a tattoo, McCall claims he took an almost lethal mixture of Oxycontin, Xanax and GHB, with some marijuana mixed in.

He found his salvation in family and MMA. His unanimous-decision victory over No. 1-ranked Jussier da Silva in February 2011 helped. So did sobriety.

“I got myself back to being sober,” he said. “It (the overdose) was a one-time kind of thing. I just focused on fighting, started winning, reconnected with my now-wife.

“We used to party together a lot, and she cleaned her life up, and then one day she says — we weren’t even seriously dating, we were just kind of starting to hang out again — and she goes, ‘I’m pregnant.’ ”

It wasn’t a tough decision from there.

“We had already dated for like five years before that,” McCall said. “And I was like, ‘OK, well, you’re the only girl I’ve cared about, so what do you want to do? And so now we’re married and have a beautiful little daughter.”

Things are looking up for McCall, and a victory over Johnson on Friday could almost complete the cycle. There would just be one more step to make things complete — defeat Benavidez for the title. The fight is likely going to be at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“I grew up there,” McCall said. “I’d probably know 15,000 out of the 20,000 people that show up.

“It would be a dream come true to be able to fight for a title there.”