Just a week after being granted release from his Ultimate Fighting Championship contract, “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall is bound for the Rizin Fighting Federation, sliding into the quarterfinals of the promotion's ongoing bantamweight tournament.
In a press conference Monday at the Westin Tokyo Hotel, Rizin officials held a lottery drawing to determine the quarterfinal pairings for its 2017 grand prix and introducing the 33-year-old McCall as the Block A “wild card” entrant. The quarterfinals of Rizin's bantamweight bracket will take place on Dec. 29 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, with the semifinals and finale taking place two days later at the same venue on New Year's Eve.
In the draw, McCall has been lined up with Portugal-based Angolan Manel Kape, who just a day earlier leveled Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto's nephew Erson Yamamoto with a head kick in 71 seconds. Other announced quarterfinal bouts will see bantamweight King of Pancrase Shintaro Ishiwatari take on France's Kevin Petshi, while Takafumi Otsuka faces undefeated Lebanese-German prospect Khalid Taha.
McCall has fought just once in over three years, losing a unanimous decision to John Lineker at UFC 183 in January 2015. Due to a truly staggering confluence of injuries, illness and opponent pullouts, McCall had six straight UFC fights fall apart, most recently with McCall experiencing another bout with an unspecific stomach issue, leading to his removal from a bout with unbeaten Jarred Brooks at UFC 208 this past February.
Last week, McCall announced on “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani that he had been granted his release, parted ways with long-time trainer Colin Oyama and manager Jason House and wouldn't fight for less than $100,000.
Curiously, the focal point and star of the Rizin tournament, former UFC flyweight title challenger Kyoji Horiguchi, still awaits his official round-of-eight opponent.
At Rizin’s “Aki No Jin” this past Sunday in Fukuoka, Japan, unbeaten Brazilian Gabriel Leite de Oliveira destroyed Japanese MMA icon Tatsuya Kawajiri with a second-round knee in what was billed as another tournament wild card bout, but Rizin CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara would not fully commit to Horiguchi-Oliveira in the quarters.
"Gabriel Oliveira who beat Kawajiri yesterday also has a chance, but I still want to decide. We are negotiating with promoters from around the world such as Bellator and BAMMA [British Association of Mixed Martial Arts],” said Sakakibara.