Flyweight contender Ian McCall has had a tough run in the UFC thus far, but it looks like he has begun to turn things around of late. In fact, the former top-ranked 125-pounder could be the biggest threat to Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson’s dominant reign over the UFC flyweight division.

When “Uncle Creepy” entered the organization in 2012, he was instantly one of the promotion’s most popular flyweight fighters. He had a recognizable image, a marketable personality and, best of all, he was great at interacting with fans. Paired up againstMighty Mouse in the UFC’s inaugural tournament to crown a flyweight champ, McCall wound up in one of the oddest scoring debacles in recent memory in any MMA promotion. Due to a judging error, his original majority loss to Johnson, which had seemed close enough to go either way, was turned into a draw. The fight never saw what should have been a fourth “sudden death” round.

As the fight was part of a tournament, the sudden death round had been agreed upon in advance. However, the Australian Athletic Commission, which was overseeing the fight at UFC on FX: Alves vs. Kampmann, didn’t catch the error until it was too late. UFC President Dana White let the news slip at the post-fight press conference, and the fighters were scheduled for a rematch at UFC on FX 3, where Johnson defeated McCall in a three-round main event via unanimous decision.

It was not an auspicious start to McCall’s UFC career.

That bout was followed by a loss to title challenger Joseph Benavidez. It was a tough fight for anyone, to be sure, but suddenly the popular fighter with the fantastic handlebar mustache was winless in three UFC fights.

Despite this, McCall remained in the top five of the UFC flyweight rankings. This phenomenon was the result of a mixture of both his reputation and history as a lighter fighter and, if we’re being totally honest, his popularity and fight style as well. Those factors, all added to the fact that the newly formed flyweight division was quite shallow in comparison to, say, 145 pounds and up (a criticism which still dogs the flyweight division to this day), allowed McCall to maintain that high ranking.

Still, even a fighter of McCall’s stature needed to start winning, and he began turning things around late last summer with an August 2013 victory over Iliarde Santos at UFC 163 in Brazil. Not only had “Uncle Creepy” picked up his long-awaited first UFC win, but he’d done it in enemy territory, in Santos’ home country, never an easy task.

However, with the good news came the bad: McCall wound up with a broken hand from the bout. While McCall was on the mend, tragedy would strike when his friend and roommate, Shane Del Rosario, himself a UFC heavyweight, passed away after two heart attacks brought about by a number of conditions, including Long QT syndrome, which can cause fast, irregular heartbeats, and recent cocaine and other drug use.

McCall, with a past history of drug use himself, was devastated. Months later, the wound was reopened when former friend and fellow fighter Rob Emerson, who McCall publicly accused of sleeping with his wife in mid 2013, went on record saying he held McCall “indirectly responsible” for Del Rosario’s death.

All this couldn’t possibly be conducive to focusing on a title run, but earlier this month at UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Brandao, McCall, healed up from injury and at long last back in the Octagon, took home his second UFC victory. The win came over tough, hard-hitting Brad “One Punch” Pickett.

Pickett, despite only having fought twice in the UFC’s flyweight division, is a solid name, and the victory was the best possible news for both McCall and the UFC. Currently, eighth-ranked Chris Cariaso is scheduled for the next shot against the champion, Johnson.

Who is left after that?

Johnson has already cleanly defeated Joseph Benavidez twice. He has beaten John Dodson, and although Dodson is due for a second shot, he’s out with injury until 2015. Mighty Mouse just defeated the now-suspended Ali Bagautinov, and he has defeated fifth-ranked John Moraga as well. In the top eight, that leaves John Lineker, who lost to Bagautinov before bouncing back recently with a win, and Jussier “Formiga” da Silva, who has been trading wins and losses of late.

A two-fight winning streak at flyweight? Well, that’s one win away from a title shot, quite frankly, or maybe even less if there’s an injury. With a proven name and having the argument that one of their two fights could easily have gone his way, McCall has a rubber match with Johnson just waiting to happen. Outside of a healthy Dodson, McCall is probably the best hope the flyweights have for dethroning the current champ. As their first two fights showed, McCall does have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with Johnson.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.