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Ian McCall to fight in Rizin bantamweight grand prix on Dec. 29

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Ian McCall
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A week after being released by the UFC, Ian McCall’s next fight will be in “The Land of the Rising Sun.”

On Monday, Japanese promotion Rizin announced that the perennial flyweight contender will be moving up to 135 pounds to compete in their bantamweight grand prix that continues on Dec. 29 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. MMAjunkie first reported the news.

McCall, 33, joins the quarter-finals of the tournament as a wildcard entrant. The grand prix has already kicked off with bouts taking place in July and October.

Taking on “Uncle Creepy” will be Portugal’s Manel Kape, a 23-year-old with a 7-1 record that includes six wins by knockout or submission. He defeated Erson Yamamoto by first-round knockout to advance in the tournament.

McCall and Kape officially faced off on Monday:

Also expected to take place in the next round of the grand prix are bouts between France’s Kevin Petshi (13-3) and Shintaro Ishiwatari (23-6-4), and Germany’s Khalid Taha (11-0) and Takafumi Otsuka (23-13-2). One-time UFC flyweight title contender Kyoji Horiguchi (20-2) is still waiting to see who he will face in the second round.

The semifinals and finals of the tournament take place just two days later on Dec. 31, also at the Saitama Super Arena.

Following his release from the UFC, McCall said on The MMA Hour that he hoped to sign with Rizin.

“I’m gonna take this, go to a different market and see if it works,” McCall said.

McCall (13-5-1) has not fought since Jan. 31, 2015. He has seen several bookings fall through due to maladies afflicting both him and his opponents, including his most recent setback that saw him withdraw from a bout with Jarred Brooks at UFC 208 on the day of the fight due to a gastrointestinal illness.