Court McGee has overcome his share of obstacles to reach the UFC, including a battle with heroin that nearly took his life.
McGee (13-1) will meet Dong Yi Yang Saturday night at UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger in his first fight since late 2010 due to knee surgery.
The Ultimate Fighter winner tore his left knee to shreds while training for a fight with Jesse Bondfeldt at UFC 131 after shooting in for a double-leg takedown on his very first offensive move during his very first sparring session following a recovery from a hand injury he suffered during a win over Ryan Jensen at UFC 121.
“I broke my second metacarpal,” McGee said during a recent interview with ESPN. “After it healed, they took the pins out; I started camp and signed for a fight, in that order.”
After initially refusing to get the knee checked out, pleas from training partners Jake Shields and Nick and Nate Diaz finally pushed McGee (13-1) to talk to a doctor.
The news was not good.
“I had an MRI and (the left knee) was just destroyed,” McGee said. “I had four or five tears in my meniscus, and a little tear in the ACL. It was tragic.”
McGee had previously torn his right knee prior to entering TUF in 2008. That injury cost him a chance to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in Brazil.
“It happened prior to the fight I had (against Dayle Jarvis) before I made it onto Season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter. It was the same thing,” McGee said. “I was about to sign for a big fight. I was going to fight at light heavyweight against Nogueira in Brazil. The fight would have been for more money than I’d ever made. But I did the same thing, shooting for a double-leg (in camp) and blowing my knee out. I was out for 10 months.”
Now, all healed up and ready to go, McGee expects to put on a show with Yang.
“I haven’t lost that drive,” McGee said. “I’ve used that experience I had before (recovering from a knee injury) to help me prepare for this fight. And I have a certain level of comfort knowing that I’ve done this before. I know I can do it again as long as I have dedication, determination and perseverance. And I show up healthy.
“I am confident in my ability to compete with the best guys in the world. And I am proud that I am able to do that in the UFC.”
UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger takes place from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.