There have been some high expectations of those fighters who have won The Ultimate Fighter since the show’s conception. The show has produced top fighters such as Rashad Evans, Ryan Bader and Nate Diaz, but in more recent times, fans have been waiting for the breakouts of the fighters who have won in the last couple of years. Two of those fighters are UFC Fight Night 27’s Court McGee and Robert Whittaker.

McGee is an especially intriguing case. Making the show as a relative unknown, McGee showed a good all-around skill set and had the ability to bloom due to his work ethic. Despite losing in the house, he was given a second chance. That was all he needed. McGee went on to win the season and embarked upon a campaign to conquer the UFC.

Now settled in at The Pit Elevated in Utah and working alongside fellow TUF veterans and UFC fighters Steven Siler and Ramsey Nijem, McGee continues to make improvements to his all-around game. Viewed as a grinder with a heavy top game and submission skills, he continues to become as well-rounded as possible.

McGee (top) delivers a right hand (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

“John Hackleman has been doing Hawaiian Kempo for years and took me under his wing after doing The Ultimate Fighter and competing for Chuck [Liddell],” McGee told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “He brought the Pit curriculum to Utah, so we kind of have a hybrid style there. We do lots of wrestling and jiu-jitsu, but of course we train striking, which I have improved greatly in. But I have improved in every aspect of fighting.”

A fighter can train all the kickboxing and wrestling they want, but there is no excuse for a lack of cardio. However, cardio is something that can be improved by training at a higher altitude. That’s another advantage to a camp at The Pit Elevated, which is high above sea level and can allow for conditioning to be done in a more hardcore setting.

Yet, no matter the cardio or the skill set, there are always those intangibles that just cannot be taught.

“You’re either born of heart or you’re not; I was born with heart,” McGee proclaimed. “I have a fear of quitting, so I drive and drive and never quit. So training at elevation doesn’t make a difference. I just try to push the limits, especially in conditioning.”

After starting 3-0 at middleweight with the UFC, McGee stumbled in two straight bouts against former castmates Costa Philippou and Nick Ring (in a controversial decision). That two-fight skid prompted McGee’s drop to 170 pounds, a cut many fans were shocked to see. However, it was a move that was imminent and should have been expected in the eyes of the man putting in the work.

McGee (R) connects with a right hand (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

“There’s a difference between losing and being defeated,” McGee explained. “I lost decisions to both of those guys. Sometimes you fall a little bit short no matter how hard you put in the effort. There is a lot of spiritual growth from a loss. You grow more from losing than winning.

“I planned on dropping after fighting Philippou because my weight has been decreasing since TUF. I only cut like eight or nine pounds and the opponent was cutting 20-plus pounds, so I knew it was time to cut down even though I took the Ring fight at middleweight. After that, it was definitely time to drop.”

Now, McGee is set to fight Australian prospect Robert Whittaker, a fighter noted for his quickness, athleticism, explosiveness and unorthodox striking. In his last fight, Whittaker knocked out Colton Smith, a grinding wrestler, using great takedown defense and pinpoint accuracy to get the job done. Preparations for McGee have been routine, however. McGee is interested in focusing more on what he can control than what he cannot.

“I have just been training to be the best Court McGee there’s ever been,” McGee said. “It’s none of the business of what he’s going to do or what he’s done. My business is what I’m going to do or what I’ve done. I’m just there to kick his ass.”

The grind continues for McGee as he cuts weight in the anticipation of his impending battle. No matter the style of his opponent, the method stays the same. McGee does what he does well, and he sticks to it no matter what. His well-conditioned grinding attack will continue to frustrate opponents, collect him win bonuses and move him closer to a title shot in the future.

Court would like to thank his family and his Pit Elevated family. Follow McGee on Twitter: @Court_McGee

Top Photo: Court McGee (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.