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Ian McCall on wanting to fight despite blood infection: 'I'll die doing this'

Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS -- Ian McCall traveled to Brazil in November knowing he was under the weather. He still cut the pounds he needed and successfully hit the flyweight 126-pound limit.

A few hours later, McCall was in the hospital with an infection in his blood. He had to pull out of his UFC Fight Night 56 co-main event bout with John Lineker in Uberlandia, Brazil. But it wasn't by choice. If it were up to him, McCall said, he still would have fought.

"I still made weight having a sickness, a bacterial infection," McCall told MMA Fighting on Wednesday at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale media day at the Palms. "I think that kind of opened John's eyes, too. Like, I'll die doing this. I don't care. I didn't pull out, UFC pulled me out. They took me to the hospital. Their doctor pulled me out."

McCall (13-4-1), of course, didn't have much of a choice. There's no way the Brazilian commission would have let him compete. McCall calls the entire experience a "nightmare." It took him 27 hours and four flights to get to Uberlandia. He missed one flight and the airline lost his luggage. Meanwhile, he was sick the entire time.

"For me, everything outside of the cage is super emotional," McCall said. "It just wears on you. You don't have control over it. I can't beat the s*** out of this situation. You can't physically do anything about it, so it's hard."

McCall will get a reprieve when he gets the fight with Lineker he wanted at UFC 183 on Jan. 31 here in Las Vegas. The Southern California native won't have to travel all that far this time around. More than that, though, it's just a huge fight for both men. The winner is likely to earn a title shot against UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.

"This fight gives me a lot of validity into what I'm trying to accomplish," McCall said. "It puts value into me having a title shot or at least one step closer to a title shot. If they don't give me a title shot after this, of course I'll make a stink about it."

Lineker (24-7) poked some fun at McCall after he was forced to withdraw, telling reporters that McCall was going to need a trip to the hospital anyway. McCall didn't mind the words. In fact, he said Lineker could have been harsher.

"I would have talked way more trash," McCall said. "In reality, John is a nice guy. John held back from talking trash. He did.

"It's just not in him. He's a nice, nice guy. You have to talk a little bit of trash. That's fine. But we are going to fight and you've avoided it long enough. You almost got away with not fighting me. Do or say whatever you want, but you're going to end up on your back and you're going to end up sleeping."

McCall is already taking precautions to be healthier heading into this camp. His diet, he said, is already pretty clean, but instead of going out to eat and partying this weekend in Vegas, he's going to keep it low key. "Uncle Creepy" even has his teammate Carla Esparza's nutritionist making food for him.

There's no way he wants a repeat of Uberlandia.

"It felt like the one machine I built just crapped out on me," McCall said.

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