Lost within the billion-dollar MMA industry are countless stories of unfulfilled dreams. Cautionary tales of drug abuse, nagging injuries, and criminal records often end with a fighter’s personal life mirroring his career – stripped of the success they once imagined. Mixed martial artists, above most athletes, realize that there is one degree of separation between having a job and having the same income as the homeless.
To UFC flyweight Ian McCall, however, homelessness isn’t a symbol of hardship or a few bad breaks. It is symbolic of society’s lowest rung, full of the drug-addicted.
“I hate the homeless … I don’t feel sorry for you. If you want change then let me throw it as hard as I can at your dirty face,” McCall posted via Twitter.
He would later defend his comment by stating, “Hate me all you want Ive been homeless n stung out. I changed that part of my life No sympathy for junkies who talk s–t to me for no reason”
In an interview with Scifighting last month, McCall made no secret of his drug-dealing past, claiming to have known nearly 30 people that have died from self-inflicted reasons ranging from popping pills to suicide, and other fates like being murdered. For a man to have grown up in this environment, one would think he would sympathize with the homeless. After all, McCall is in a business where one’s career can fall apart in a single night.
The fact is, most fighters can’t make ends meet on one to two matches per year, and one split-decision defeat, a single loss, can determine whether they see another paycheck or find themselves wondering how they’ll pay their bills. UFC 165 saw Jon Jones ($450,000) and Alexander Gustafsson ($80,000) earn relatively big paydays. Those on the preliminary card, however, weren’t as fortunate and received a fraction of those amounts with Renee Forte and Jesse Ronsen earning $6,000 each, respectively.
In a study of 8,333 homeless individuals living in Orange County, Calif., where McCall resides, Applied Survey Research found that 99 percent stated that they were experiencing one or more disabling conditions and 30 percent said that they had lost their job. More disturbing is the fact that 39 percent of homeless have at least one child living with them.
Within hours of the original post, McCall issued an apology for his insensitive comments.
“I was having a sh-tty day and some junkie was talking sh-t to me and i took it to twitter. I have nothing against the homeless I don’t even know why i used that word, it has nothing to do with psychiatric people or PTSD people,” McCall wrote on The Underground.
“Anyone that knows me knows how much charity work i do,” he added. “I just had a problem with this junkie talking s–t to me and i apologize to everyone that i said that. I used to have a drug problem now i despise junkies. I’m sorry for offending anyone it came off as a total asshole thing to say and for that i am sorry.”
Only time will tell if this is enough to alleviate the damage McCall has brought upon himself. In December, he faces off against Scott Jorgensen at UFC on FOX 9, where a victory may catapult him into a title contender. These comments may not have an effect on his performance, but they are likely to affect an individual’s perception of him.