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Ian McCall on UFC Fight Night 56 pullout: 'My body completely failed me'

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Esther Lin

With a nightmare weekend behind him, and 30 hours of travel to think about everything that took place, Ian McCall could boil down the health scare that caused him to drop out of his UFC Fight Night 56 co-main event against John Lineker to a simple premise.

"Once I weakened my immune system with my weight cut, my body completely failed me," the flyweight contender from Orange County said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.

A blood infection had slowed down McCall during his training in the leadup to his fight against John Lineker in Uberlandia, Brazil. But nearly every fighter goes through aches and pains during their training camp, so McCall thought he'd simply be able to tough his way through things and then get some rest after the fight.

"It wasn't that bad," McCall said of the weeks leading up to the planned bout. "I was a little slow in training, I was still getting all my training in, I was still resting a lot. Everything was on point. It was just, energy levels were a little low, so then I was doing even more recovery stuff, more juices, more stuff for recovery, I don't know I just figure I'm strong enough, I don't like taking antibiotics, I don't look putting that stuff in body, I don't know how this stuff works."

McCall went into great detail in walking through his experience from his weight cut, where everything started going south, to weighing in, to seeing doctors, to getting pulled from the fight.

While endured a sleepless night the previous evening, and ended up vomiting in the middle of his weight cut, ultimately, McCall realized something was seriously wrong when he got to the arena for the weigh-in.

"Usually backstage, I've got a lot of energy, I'm shadow boxing, it's also a mental thing. I like to show the person that I've got energy in spades, cardio in spades, I'm going to cut weight,  if we fought right now, I'd bury you. But I just couldn't. I couldn't move, I just wanted to save whatever energy I have for the stage. I went on, I made my weight, put on a little show, and then once we got backstage it just got worse, I started to drink, I couldn't get food in, I took one bite of pineapple and I was like I need a trash can. So [UFC employee] Isabella [Hodge] brought one over. I didn't throw up, even though I felt like it. they gave us the [pre-fight] speech and I couldn't stand up. They had to get me an IV at the stadium, they were like let's do it now."

Back at the hotel, McCall stayed hopeful that the worst was over, and that he could get through the evening and be in shape to fight the next night.

"I tried to stay positive and keep breathing and relaxing and focused," he said. "I was eating very small amounts of food, a protein shake here, a little bit of chicken and vegetables. I don't gorge myself before the fight, I eat as healthy as I eat any other day. ... I laid down and my body started steaming up. My throat, my back, my head, my hand, I had shooting pains, all the stuff, I had a lot of trouble breathing, I couldn't really see, I had probably drank 10 pounds water, I had an IV in me, I should have felt a lot better. I couldn't see my phone, luckily I was able to text my coach, ‘you need to grab a doctor and come up, you gotta get the doctor, I don't feel good, I don't know what to do.'"

McCall was taken to the hospital. He doesn't remember many of the details of his visit. He does recall going back to his hotel room and sleeping for 10 hours. While he was asleep, the decision was made to pull him from the fight.

"I apologize to everybody, obviously I feel bad for everyone, for the fans, for the UFC, for the media, for my coaches, my family, but the first thing is, everyone at UFC is like isten, get healthy. They looked out for my best interests. that's the main thing."

As much as his employers and inner circle were understanding of the situation, though, McCall couldn't mentally let himself off the hook.

"I tried not to cry to myself," he said. "I tried not to lay there and cry like a little girl. It's depressing, it's something you strive so hard for. I'm a machine, I can fight through this, Why? Why did my body fail me, why did I let this happen. People can talk all the shit they want, I don't care what they say on twitter, people can say what they want, all these twitter trolls that talk shit. As far as mysef, look how much training I've put in. I know I'm in this good of shape. I know I'm this healthy. I know I"m this tough. I know I'm this much of a badass. How has this vehicle I've created failed me, why is it happening to me? You go through a whole range of emotions, I just laid there and just tried to be somehow positive about it."

So it's back to the drawing board for McCall, who is still on several of his antibiotics and will need at least a week before he can even think of getting back to the gym. As for when he returns, well, Lineker, who had his usual issues making the flyweight limit in Uberlandia, has indicated he wants to move on, but McCall believes having this bout take place still makes the most sense.

"I want that fight," he said. "I think it makes a lot of sense. I think that him trying to go around me is weird. We still have a date. We gotta dance, homie. We gotta get down, we've got some games to play. I get it, you don't want to fight me, whatever stupid reasons you have in your mind. But I just think he realizes I'm a very bad fight for him. I made weight, I made 125 and I was sick. I'm going to make weight you missed weight [Lineker made weight on his second attempt] and you're good. I think he realizes the type of individual that he's going to have to deal with when I am 100 percent."