“Uncle Creepy” earned a do or die win at UFC 163 in Brazil, with the UFC’s number three-ranked flyweight scoring his way to a decision victory over Iliarde Santos (27-8, 0-2 UFC). Ian McCall (12-4, 1-2-1 UFC) used his superior speed and footwork to pick apart the larger Brazilian throughout three rounds. His straight, accurate punches and crisp leg-kicks started finding their mark as soon as the first round began.
McCall’s best punch of the first round came when he landed a perfectly placed left hook while backing Santos into the cage. Santos came back with a failed takedown that put the Brazilian on his back. More of the same happened in the beginning second, and McCall’s work rate stayed consistently higher than Stantos’. The Brazillian had his moments, as cracked McCall with a few hard right hands and landed a well-timed takedown from the clinch.
The pace never slowed down in the third round, as McCalls footwork and speed dictated the tempo of the fight. Both fighters each scored one takedown within the stanza, but neither could capitalize on the position. McCall’s accuracy and volume allowed him to methodically pick Iliarde apart as the round closed.
McCall came out of the fight with a well-earned decision over a much larger and game opponent.
The loss dropped Santos down to 0-2 in his UFC career.
The victory was the first of McCall’s UFC stint, and keeps him at the top of the UFC flyweight rankings. Joseph Benavidez (18-3 4-1 UFC) and John Dodson (15-6, 3-1 UFC) still sit neatly at the top of the division, under the champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (18-2, 4-1-1 UFC).
The workman-like win leaves McCall in an interesting position in the UFC’s 125 lbs division. The Californian-based fighter is a fan-favorite with an almost cult-like following. Uncle Creepy could be a marketable tool in bringing more attention to the UFC’s fastest and most technical division.
There are plenty of match-ups that McCall can explore. He can either try to jump into the flyweight shark tank and take on the winner of the Benavidez-Jesse Formiga fight, or face Dodson. Alternatively, he can raise his stock by facing the ultra-talented but lesser-known flyweights. Match-ups with John Moraga (13-2, 2-1 UFC), Jon Lineker(21-6, 2-1 UFC), or the winner of the Louis Gaudinot-Tim Elliot bout could allow him to rack up a few more key wins in order to make a case for a rematch with Mighty Mouse.
Flyweight is a division often overlooked due to its relative youth in the UFC. Not many of the fighters are known. Few, such as Uncle Creepy and Mighty Mouse, stand out from the pack. As such, McCall remains a valuable commodity in the flyweight division.
It is not out of the realm of reason to think that McCall only needs a couple notable wins to once again compete for the flyweight crown. It is in the best interest of the UFC to give the exciting 125er smart matches against competitive opponents.
The best candidate may be the last person to fight for the title – Moraga. His recent exposure could bring a good deal of attention to the fight. A victory could quickly put Uncle Creepy on the fast track to another title, and a loss could return the marketable Moraga to his winning ways.
Whatever they choose, the UFC should use their most popular flyweight to shine a light on the company’s youngest weight-class.