With more than a decade's worth of experience in the fight game under his belt and long-term status as one of the world's best flyweights, Ian McCall has a solid grasp on the action that takes place at the highest levels in MMA.
The 29-year-old Southern California native has been a staple in the realm of lighter weight fighters for years and was plying his trade long before the divisions south of 155 pounds came to share a piece of the spotlight. Over that period, "Uncle Creepy" came to be recognized as the best 125-pound fighter on the planet and is currently in the process of battling his way through the UFC's flyweight division.
While setbacks, personal issues and injuries made the opening leg of the scrappy flyweight's run under the UFC banner a rough one, he was able to find his footing against Iliarde Santos last August at UFC 163 and put things back on track in his fight career.
The former Tachi Palace champion will be looking to continue his climb up the divisional ladder when he squares off with Brad Pickett in the UFC's return to Dublin for Fight Night 46 on July 19.
While his ultimate goal is to reign over the flyweight collective with championship gold around his waist, McCall is acutely aware there is much work to be done before that dream can become reality. With that in mind, the amount of experience and time McCall has logged competing at an elite level has given him a unique perspective of how things play out when the cage door closes, and he applies that knowledge to his personal matchups, as well as those his peers are involved in.
Due to McCall's veteran status and time spent competing in both the flyweight and bantamweight divisions, MMA media staple Rick Lee sought his take on the upcoming 135-pound title bout between champion Renan Barao and T.J. Dillashaw this Saturday at UFC 173 in Las Vegas. The Brazilian wrecking machine will look to defend his recently minted undisputed title against the former prospect-turned-title challenger in the main event of the UFC's annual Memorial Day event.
While the energetic and outspoken McCall acknowledges the improvements Dillashaw has made in the short amount of time he's been competing under the UFC banner, the Dana Point-based fighter believes he is getting in way over his head by facing the 27-year-old Brazilian phenom.
Since entering the Zuffa fold in 2010, "The Baron" has defeated all nine of the men he's faced inside the cage, with six of those opponents being turned into highlight-reel material due to the impressive—and sometimes brutal—nature of the way the bouts were finished.
In addition to being recognized as one of the pound-for-pound best in the sport, Barao is also widely accepted as one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA. McCall believes UFC 173's main event tilt is going to end badly for the Team Alpha Male fighter and cites the Sacramento-based collective's track record against Nova Uniao fighters as the reason he can see Barao scoring a knockout victory on Saturday night.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.