Mark Kolbe, Getty Images
Last month, Ian McCall was arrested and charged with one count of driving on a suspended license. McCall, who has had his run-ins with the law in the past, ended up only serving 17 days of a 30-day jail sentence. But the most startling revelation came when he discovered he'd apparently been driving on a suspended license for two years, and throughout a lengthy legal process, no one had ever told him.
In fact, now that he's been released, McCall believes the license issue, which stemmed from an old charge a few years ago and seemingly fell through the legal cracks, didn't have anything to do with the motivations behind his arrest.
"They thought I was a drug dealer," McCall revealed on Wednesday's edition of The MMA Hour. "Don't know why. Well, actually, I know why. Someone that doesn't like me told them I was a drug dealer. An actual drug dealer that doesn't like me got busted -- I've seen the paperwork -- and said ‘oh, he's a drug dealer too.' And they came over to my house and they didn't find any drugs, they didn't find any text messages, they didn't find anything bad. So they're like ‘okay, you're not a drug dealer, but your probation officer said to come get you anyways because you have a suspended license.'"
For McCall, it was precisely the last thing he needed after emerging intact after tumultuous and sordid past. Word of his arrest spread quickly throughout the MMA community, and to make matters worse, initial reports tied the suspended license charge with "possession of narcotic paraphernalia and possession of prescription meds without a valid prescription," a pair of old charges stemming from 2008 that remained on his record because of an unfinished community service requirement with CalTrans.
Ultimately, it all led to a scene that McCall is not likely to forget.
"It was embarrassing," he admitted. "Them taking me away in front of my daughter and my wife. They tore my house apart, they tore my car apart. I guess they were following me from the gym, and they said, ‘oh, it would be more embarrassing if you got arrested in front of your gym.' Well I'd much rather be arrested in front of my gym, where my coach is a lawyer, compared to me being arrested at my house, in front of my neighbors and my daughter. I don't know. Cops are stupid, and they really just wanted to come to the house and search the house. But, again, I'm not a drug dealer and I'm not being charged with selling drugs."
Regardless, the 17-day jail stint was an experience the fighter described as "horrible." Trapped in a single-room, 70-man tank, McCall was overwhelmed by the weight of his situation. His bunkmate was a "head skinhead guy" serving a 27-year sentence, and even now, his body still aches from the concrete and metal he was confined to.
But most of all, McCall's isolation away from his wife and daughter took the greatest toll.
"I couldn't sleep in there," McCall explained. "I got maybe like an hour of sleep a day, for the first ten days. I remember just sitting up and I was like, ‘what the hell am I doing here. I don't belong here. This isn't where I'm supposed to be right now. I'm should be at the gym, at least getting punched in the face, if not punching someone in the face. I'm supposed to be doing better things with my life, and creating a life for my family.'
"Any matter of time is a long time when you're away from your daughter and your wife. Even one night is too much. It's definitely not a place I ever want to go back to."
Even after his release, the legal process still isn't over. McCall is scheduled to attend court one last time, which he's been promised is a mere formality, and is expected to be cleared of any additional issues. He's also required to complete his CalTrans 20-day community service sentence from 2008 and has to pay a $601 fine to get his license back.
But overall, things could be worse. McCall still finds himself employed by the UFC, who he says have been by his side throughout the entire process.
"The UFC has supported the whole time," McCall insisted. "Sean Shelby and Dana White, obviously I'm sure they're not happy with me being in the situation I'm in. You've got to kind of be angry at someone, because I've put myself in this situation. I know bad people, I know dumb people. That's just how I grew up. I guess because I haven't just blacklisted everybody and moved out of the state, I don't even know. It's confusing. But they're happy and they said that I should be fighting hopefully this year, and if not, maybe January.
"There's nothing set in stone. I wanted to fight in November, but I think because of the UFC 151 debacle, I wont be able to fight until January. But there's a lot of flyweight fights coming up until then, so, I don't mean to be mean, but hopefully someone breaks a pinky toe or something so I can step in and hurt somebody."
While McCall may still be bewildered over his bizarre circumstances, he admits that he gained a new appreciation for what he has. Some of the men he met, like his bunkmate, are going to be in jail for the majority of their lives and will never get to experience the little joys McCall treasures.
In the end, the only way for the flyweight contender to reconcile what just happened is to turn it into a positive; to climb back into the cage, and as he puts it, continue making a life for he and his family.
"I have to build," McCall vowed. "I have to beat up whoever they put in front of me and I have to do it convincingly. Otherwise, someone else will pass me up. So I have to go out and I have to really, really, really put the beating on a couple people, and hopefully, I'll get a title shot against whoever wins."
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