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Ian McCall announces retirement

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“Uncle Creepy” is calling it a day.

Ian McCall announced Monday on The MMA Hour that he is retiring after a 15-year career that saw him become one of the best fighters in the 125-pound division.

“I’m retiring finally, I think people have been waiting for this for a long time,” McCall said. “I’m done. This sport has taken so much from me — I shouldn’t say it’s taken, I’ve given this sport so much. And sure, I was the best in the world years ago and sure, people keep bringing up my ‘Al Bundy’ moment about beating Demetrious (Johnson), ‘Oh, you’re the guy, blah blah blah.’

“I’ve had a good run, it’s been fun, but at the same time, it’s over. After enough shenanigans that I’ve been through, I think physically I could still do it. Physically I go in the gym, I train hard. I beat people up, I have a good time, I love doing it, but with my luck and I hate to be the guy that’s like, ‘It always happens to me, the bad things always happen to me,’ well they kind of do in this sport. ... I’m not gaining ground, I’m not getting closer to being the best in the world. The steps are getting farther and farther away and I’m not in this to be anything but the best in the world. And if I cannot compete at that level of the best in the world, then it’s just not worth it for me.”

In 21 pro bouts, McCall compiled a record of 13-7-1. He established himself as one to watch in 2011, beating Jussier Formiga, Dustin Ortiz, and Darrell Montague in the Tachi Palace Fights promotion. Those victories arguably made McCall the best flyweight in the world and when the UFC added the division in 2012, it was no surprise that McCall was included in a four-man tournament to crown the UFC’s first champion in that weight class alongside Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez, and Yasuhiro Urushitani.

McCall memorably went three rounds with Johnson at UFC on FX 2, nearly finishing “Mighty Mouse” in round three after dropping the first two frames. The bout ended in a majority draw, a controversial result for several reasons. Judges initially scored the bout as a majority decision in favor of Johnson, but it was later announced that there was a scoring error.

The tournament bouts were also supposed to allow for a “sudden death” fourth round in the event of a draw, but that was apparently forgotten in the confusion. Rather than settle things with an extra period of action, McCall and Johnson would rematch at UFC on FX 3 and Johnson would earn a unanimous decision nod to advance to the finals, become world champion, and later claim the longest UFC title defense streak in history.

More recently, McCall’s career has been plagued by misfortune. The 34-year-old has seen nine bouts canceled over the past four years due to maladies to either himself or his opponents. Even after he parted ways with the UFC and was able to get a fight with Rizin, his debut for the promotion ended in a technical knockout loss to Manel Kape when it appeared that a cut by the ring ropes rendered him unable to continue.

In McCall’s last fight on May 6, he was knocked out by Kyoji Horiguchi in just nine seconds. That outcome influenced his decision to retire and move on to other opportunities, including possibly playing a role in shaping the next generation of fighters.

“In Japan, after the fight I just went, you know what, I hate saying this but I can’t catch a break. (Joe) Rogan always talks a bunch of s**t about how people are always like ‘they can’t catch a break’, well I can’t catch a break. But that’s okay, I’m just going to change my situation so I can catch a break,” McCall said.

“I have a work ethic that’s second-to-none, so I’m just going to transfer over what I know work-ethic-wise from MMA to a different job, a different arena. I’ll always be part of MMA, I’ll always be at the gym, I still need to get my black belt in jiu-jitsu. Maybe consult for a fight promotion, I’m not sure what I’m really going to do, I’m talking to Combates, me and Campbell McLaren have been going back and forth.

“There’s a lot of things that I would like to do that have just been ideas, there’s a lot of options, but I would really like to show the younger fighters — because I’ve been somewhat of a pioneer — what there is to do after this sport. Because these guys are screwed. People in this sport aren’t the smartest, sorry guys, we’re not the smartest people in the planet. So it’s really, really sad and really hard to see people not being able to get a job besides being a trainer at a gym for $25 an hour.”

Should a massively lucrative fight offer come along someday, McCall said he’d consider fighting again, health permitting, but otherwise doesn’t see that happening.

Asked if he has any regrets, McCall admitted there were setbacks that would bother him “forever” and that he’d miss fighting, which he described as “a drug that’s hard to come by”. However, his attitude going forward appears to be one of optimism.

“I’m happy,” McCall said. “I didn’t take any bad brain damage — that I know of, yet — all in all, I’d say even though there are a lot of things I do regret, I had a lot of fun. Sure, I didn’t make the millions I was planning on making, but I’ll make it somewhere else. Life is good and I’m happy.”