Former Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee is a focused individual in and out of the Octagon.
However, he also understands that in the fight business, being able to adapt is key.
After signing to face fellow TUF winner Kelvin Gastelum this coming Saturday at UFC on FOX 9, “The Crusher” accepted Ryan LaFlare as a replacement after Gastelum went down with an injury.
“You have no control over that stuff and can’t dwell on it,” said McGee, during an interview with FightLine.com. “They are both similar, both southpaws that like to wrestler and are grinders.
“But (all fighters) kick, punch and elbow, so (it wasn’t much of a change in training).”
In fact, McGee (16-3) admitted that no change was really needed at all because he was only preparing to better himself in the practice room.
“I don’t focus too much on (the opponent),” he said. “I try to focus on improving, constantly improving; becoming better at kicking, punching, moving, lateral movement.
“The only think I tried to change this camp was throwing with a little more power.”
Training across the western half of the country
A member of The Pit in Utah, McGee took up residence in multiple areas of California and Utah to prepare for Saturday.
I spent the first five or six weeks in Utah, and a week or so with Jake (Shield) and Tareq Azim in San Francisco,” he said. “Then I came out (to San Luis Obispo, California) to finish my camp off with John Hackleman.”
Shields, who coached McGee on the reality show, first asked him to come to San Francisco while he was preparing for Dan Henderson.
“I spent about two weeks with Tareq and I trained and got to know Gilbert Melendez, both Nick and Nate Diaz, and of course Jake,” McGee said. “Jake is such a grinder and just a great partner to work with.
“We bring in a guys to The Pit when we need them, and we have so many good guys there, as well, but it is good to change the scenery up. It helps with the focus.”
Along with Hackleman, McGee also worked closely with son, promising fighter John Hackleman, Jr.
“I just have great coaches and great training partners,” he said. “I know everybody says that, but I truly feel like mine are the best in the world.
We have Luke Riddering, who was one of Chuck (Liddell’s) main training partners. He is now a cop, but when he shows up, we get excellent training in. And John (Jr.) has been doing standup since he was like one and he is just great to go with. Brad Darrington is a former
Div. I national qualifier and will just keep coming at you the entire time.”
Pushing until he can’t push anymore
McGee admitted that he couldn’t coach himself, adding that “some people can do it, but I am not one of them. I need to be told what to do.”
That willingness to learn has helped transform him into a contender in the UFC’s welterweight division. After back-to-back defeats at middleweight, he moved down and has topped both Josh Neer and Robert Whittaker via decision.
“I’ve been a pro for almost seven years and I’ve had some time to grow and time to improve. My conditioning and training has changed. I’ve evolved over time and been given a really great opportunity to improve as an athlete. I’ve had so many good partners, been given the opportunity travel and got such good coaching in Utah and California…..I just have nothing but room to improve; which is awesome.”
That drive helped during his recent camp, as it has during others throughout.
McGee was being pushed to his limit and knew it was time to find that extra bit of energy, or head home. He’s never packed up and went home, and this wasn’t about to be the first time.
“I couldn’t give anymore right now,” he said. “I can’t give anymore. We did conditioning so hard (recently) that someone asked me to go to a movie that night (after practice) and I said I don’t wanna do anything.
“I sat on my little bed in my little room because I didn’t have anything left. That’s just the way I am…..I will just go and go and go. I thought I was this far away, a millimeter from just quitting, being done because that’s how hard I pushed. But I made it through; just a step past it.
“I don’t have an ounce of energy left. I put everything into (this past Saturday’s final practice). I am done.”
McGee singled out a specific individual for helping him get to where he is in VA Mortage Leader’s Will Farrar.
“Will has been such a big part of my career,” he said. “He was the one that helped me make it on (TUF) and got me to tryout, which eventually led to this amazing career I have had so far.
“I want to personally thank Will and VA Mortage Leader for that because they are my biggest sponsorship.”
Check back later this week for more on McGee, including which NCAA powerhouse he almost ended up at out of high school, along with why he has a specific walk-out song.
You can follow McGee on Twitter, as well.