Ian McCall needed to make some changes.
With his first loss at flyweight taking place in his last bout against Demetrious Johnson, "Uncle Creepy" realized he was too heavy, too slow and couldn't push his own limits for the full duration of the fight.
While he's had some issues in his personal life, the former top-ranked flyweight has also made some major changes physically, expecting to step into the cage at least 10 pounds lighter than in his last UFC bout.
The ex-Tachi Palace 125-pound champion will take on recent title challenger Joseph Benavidez in the opening bout of the UFC 156 main card this Saturday night (Feb. 2, 2013) in Las Vegas, Nevada and there's potential to earn a trilogy fight against Johnson if he can put on a good showing.
McCall spoke to MMAmania.com during an appearance on "The Verbal Submission" (listen to it here) about his upcoming fight against Joseph Benavidez, the big changes he's made since the loss to "Mighty Mouse" and the reason he didn't want a tune-up fight in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The odds for this fight came out pretty recently and Joseph Benavidez is -260 to your +232. Do you think that's fair? Do you prefer to be the underdog? What's your take on that?
Ian McCall: I always enjoy being the underdog becuase I have a bunch of degenerate gambler friends. The odds never affect me. I'm still sure I'll go out there and knock Joe out. If I can make my friends money and have fun with it, that makes it even better. It's not something I factor in all that much. I just like performing. I like showing that I'm the best and it adds a little bit of flavor that I'm a pretty heavy underdog heading into this one.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): 2012 wasn't the greatest year for you. It was up and down with the UFC invite, the extremely controversial draw against Demetrious Johnson, the loss in the rematch and that kooky arrest situation. Are you just happy to have that year behind you and try to get a fresh start in 2013?
Ian McCall: Yeah, exactly. It was a bad year for my team in general. Carla Esparza is a teammate of mine and she started the year off right by winning the Invicta title. If the rest of us can keep the momentum rolling, win more titles and make our coach happy, we'll be much better off. I don't like getting yelled at all the time by our coach because he's pissed off that we're not performing.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of Carla Esparza, she won that title at the beginning of the year. Did that raise the morale of the gym and get you guys inspired?
Ian McCall: Of course. She's our little girl. She's obviously tough and was good at wrestling before but we turned her into the beast that she is. She just keeps getting better and better. I train with her, go over stuff with her and she's remarkably tough for a girl. I see her beat up dudes all the time.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about this upcoming fight. Considering you had a draw in your UFC debut and then a loss in your second fight, a lot of people were surprised that you wanted to go in there against someone as highly ranked as Joseph Benavidez for your next fight. Is that just your mentality that you don't want to have a tune-up fight?
Ian McCall: Yeah, I don't care. I'm gonna do whatever my superiors tell me to do. If my bosses tell me to fight Joe, I'm gonna fight Joe. I'm not here to fight some up and coming kid. I wouldn't mind fighting one who thinks he's tough and teach him a lesson. Some sambo guy has been calling me out and I'd like to teach him a lesson. It's crap. If you're gonna call me out and you're not in the UFC, you've got a lot of work to do. But back to the subject, if I want to show I'm the best in the division, I have to fight the best guys and earn a title shot. If I don't get one after this fight that's fine, but I'm ready to put in the work to get a title shot.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've mentioned that you thought you were the second fastest guy in the UFC flyweight division next to Demetrious Johnson and you said earlier this show that you thought you'd knock Benavidez out. Do you just think you'll be a lot quicker than Benavidez on Saturday night?
Ian McCall: Yeah, it's obviously not that he's slow, but I got my footwork and got my speed back. I'm about 10 pounds lighter than I was the last time Demetrious and I fought. I'm even lighter than I was the first time I fought him. My speed is a big part of my game and the biggest difference between myself and Demetrious is that I hit a lot harder. I'm lighter than I usually am and that's how he beat Joe. He beat Joe with his speed and if I can run a similar gameplan to what he did against Joe that would be idea. The difference is if I do see openings, I'm going to exploit them. I've got a lot more punching power and a lot more vicious tools than Demetrious has in terms of taking somebody out.