Ian McCall and Manel Kape didn’t wait to get into the Rizin ring to exchange blows.
The two Rizin bantamweight grand prix participants got into a physical altercation at weigh-ins Friday. Kape slapped McCall in the back of the head following their staredown and McCall retaliated with what looked like a stiff jab to the face. Kape threw a punch back, but McCall dodged it. Officials then had to separate the two men.
McCall wrote on Twitter afterward that it was a slap, not a punch.
It was a slap. If my hand was closed he would have dropped https://t.co/SE8zcJh1pu— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) December 28, 2017
McCall and Kape are slated to meet in the quarterfinals of the tournament Friday on the first day of Rizin’s two-day, year-end event at Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
McCall (13-4-1) was granted his release from the UFC in October to pursue other opportunities. He was quickly signed by Rizin to be a part of its grand prix. The California native has not fought since a loss to John Lineker in January 2015. McCall, 33, had six straight fights get cancelled, most of them at the 11th hour, due to the illnesses of his opponents and his own illnesses.
Kape (7-1) advance in the Rizin tournament by beating Erson Yamamoto by first-round knockout in October. The Portugal native fought his entire career in Europe before this year. Kape, 24, has won all but one of his career fights via finish.
The two fighters have been exchanging trash talk on social media since the tournament matchup was booked. The winner will advance to the semifinals of the grand prix, which takes place on the second day of the Rizin event Sunday.