Story and photos by Anthony Springer, Jr.
When Court McGee walked into theUltimate Fighter press conference, he was greeted by an unlikely fan.
McGee choked out McCray in the second round with a rear naked choke to become season eleven’s UItimate Fighter.
It’s common for fighters to embrace each other in the Octagon after a hard fought battle; the praise McCray heaped on the man who defeated him just minutes earlier is something not seen often in the sport.
“He’s a bit cleaner than I was,” McCray says of McGee. “I thought we were about even and he proved me wrong. Big ups to him.
“I’m going to support him 100 percent and I know he’d do the same for me.”
It’s hard not to like McGee, who has one of the most inspirational stories in MMA today. After failing to make the cut for season seven of the show, McGee, made the trek to the season eleven tryouts from his home in Utah.
Prior to the tryout, McGee saw something in himself that wasn’t there before the first tryout.
“Just before I went there, I was sitting in my bathtub with my son and [I] visualized me standing there with the trophy,” he says. “That was the first thing I thought of when I held the trophy.”
McGee’s emotions got the better of him during the post-fight interview. Thru tears, McGee says he dedicated the fight to anyone who’s ever struggled in life.
“When I broke up like that, that’s seven years all in one minute,” he reveals. “If you come from where I come from to where I’m at today, you’d be the same way.
To say that McGee gambled on his future is an understatement. The husband and father went from barely saving $100 a month to a six figure contract with the UFC after four grueling fights on The Ultimate Fighter and a tough finale fight.
“I didn’t have any money, I was making within $100 of what I was spending a month,” he recounts of his journey. “I have a wife and a son in a little three bedroom apartment behind the gym. I taught classes, taught privates, trained and did my own sponsorship for two years.”
So how does he feel now?
“I feel like I earned it,” he says. “You go thru some wicked emotions. You don’t make a lot of money until you make it here. I know guys that fight just as hard as me that ain’t making anything, still working full time; that’s where I was at. You can’t question somebody’s heart that’s a professional fighter.”
While McGee’s dedication, determination and drive in the gym propelled him to where he is today, the seeds for his success were planted when he was a small child.
“My mom and dad taught me to always work hard and never give up on my dreams.
“That’s what I did.”