UFC 157's Court McGee focuses on the positives in the octagon and out.
The recent news of 16 fighters, including top-10 welterweight Jon Fitch, being cut by the UFC struck the MMA world, sending a shockwave through the MMA world's collective nervous system. But McGee can't focus on how close to home the impact was because it's a waste of energy, he said, to let himself get consumed in it.
"I can worry about [getting cut or how much money I'm paid], but I wouldn't be helping anybody," McGee told Yahoo! Sports. "I would be of service to nobody … [and] worrying about something that I can't control."
McGee fights Josh Neer on the main card for Saturday's Pay-Per-View at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The fight will be the longtime middleweight's debut one weight class lower at welterweight. But instead of fight week's headlines focusing on the card, the attention has been on UFC president Dana White's promise that there will be approximately 100 more names let go from the organization.
For McGee, he said he doesn't have any control of who stays and who goes. It's none of his business, he responded when asked what he thought of the cuts, and his job is to show up and fight.
"My job is to agree to get paid a certain amount for when I show up and fight," the former Ultimate Fighter winner said. "The only thing I can do is show up today. So I'm going to make sure I eat the foods I need to eat, and cut the weight that I need … stay focused, and do the best that I can do today to make sure I show up for my weight cut. My job is to show up and make weight, and the next day to show up and fight Josh Neer."
The drop down to the 170-pound weight class was a process that started unconsciously about two years ago. Training with John Hackleman, who's trained fighters like former UFC light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell, has created an environment where McGee is was naturally lightening up in weight. He said it became more of a challenge to keep the weight on as more and more time passed.
"The conditioning we do has changed over the years and been more aggressive, functional … Just all this different stuff to building up strength and power for fighting," he said. "Before I was doing my own conditioning and I hadn't really had that."
McGee said that some weeks would go by where he would stay under 200 pounds just from the workouts he was doing. Sparring with other fighters who competed at welterweight, but trained and walked around heavier than him gave McGee the indication that it was time to make the change. Apart from the in-house influence, the last two fights showed the new welterweight that 185 pounds may be too much.
"On [Costa] Philippou, I shot 11 times on that guy and I only took him down once," he said with perplexity. "I started thinking that it was pretty difficult. I talked to Nick [Ring] after [our] fight and he said he was 210 [pounds]. I was 195 pounds, and that's a significant difference.
"I'm like, 'Damn, maybe I don't have to have a foot-long Subway sandwich twice a day."
McGee never thought that size made that much of a difference. He always judged opponents off the martial arts background, but began to notice that once you get to the highest level of competition the playing field becomes more even. Size does have a little bit of an advantage, he said.
And now he'll begin his journey being the bigger guy in the smaller weight class. With the scheduling of UFC 158's 170-pound lineup, the division is as stacked as it's ever been and the climb will clearly be difficult, even for a bigger, stronger fighter. But as he says with everything he approaches in his life in and out of the cage, all he can do is focus on the positive things and do the best he can do, letting everything else fall into place.
If fate somehow puts his name on the list of those 100 fighters the UFC boss said will get cut, it's nothing that McGee will worry about. Always working hard and never giving up on dreams is all he consumes himself with.
"I don't want to be miserable," he said, "I can only do what I do and believe in what I believe in."
- Martial Arts
- Sports & Recreation