Not too long ago, there was a time when Ian McCall was seen as the heir apparent to the inaugural UFC Flyweight Championship.
As if his 2011 victory over then-undefeated Jussier da Silva wasn’t enough, “Uncle Creepy” headed into the UFC as the undisputed king of Tachi Palace Fights with back-to-back wins over top-ranked Darrell Montague and Dustin Ortiz. Less than two years later, McCall sported an 0-2-1 record in the UFC and found himself shipped off to Brazil facing an unranked challenger in a preliminary bout.
What a difference one fight can make.
Not only has beating Brad Pickett probably saved McCall’s MMA career, but with his first winning streak since 2011, he can finally start working his way back to title contention. However, it won’t be easy. Pickett may still be one of only two men to ever defeat current UFC champion Demetrious Johnson, but WEC 48 just feels like ages ago. About the best thing going for McCall right now is that he was able to fight “Mighty Mouse” to a majority draw in their first fight, even though he dropped the rematch.
At the very least, McCall can have a very quick route back to a title shot.
One more win against any ranked flyweight should do the trick, since that’s apparently all the justification the UFC needs to give Chris Cariaso a championship bout. One excellent option would definitely be a rematch with Joseph Benavidez. Not only would getting that win back be a big feather in McCall’s cap, but Benavidez is arguably still the second-best fighter in the division.
If not Benavidez, then the wealth of options available is still pretty solid.
John Lineker has the most buzz after his UFC Fight Night 45 win. Japanese prospect and former Shooto bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi is a fascinating style matchup. Patrick Holohan has certainly earned a top-ranked flyweight challenge following his major upset of Josh Sampo. Fellow WEC veteran Scott Jorgensen is finally coming off a win, which would be a safe tune-up. Even the Zach Makovsky vs. Jussier da Silva winner sounds like a good idea, especially if “Formiga” wins, setting up a rematch against McCall.
No matter what, the UFC shouldn’t waste this opportunity to set up McCall for (possibly) his last title hunt. As poorly as Johnson draws on pay-per-view, the flyweight division needs all the name value it can get at the top of the food chain.