TUF 11 Sherblog: Third to Last

By Court McGee Apr 8, 2010
After the preliminary fights were done, the guys who’d won were driven straight to the house. The fighter house was more like a small compound with a front gate, 30-foot lights erected at each corner of the property and grass skirt surrounding the whole thing. I call it a compound because I've been locked up in county jail before. This was kind of like being locked up, only with way better food and nicer living quarters. In this case, you didn’t have to poop in the middle of a room that’s full of dudes. There were cameras in the bathroom, though, but oh well. I’d signed up for this.

Everybody rushed into the house to get first bed picks, but I didn’t give a s---. I felt like I’d been in a war with Seth Baczynski. I went upstairs and there were a few different rooms. The first one I walked into had six beds in it. I grabbed the last bed by the window, but agreed to trade up with Joe Henle because he said he was claustrophobic. After my sleeping arrangements were situated, I went to check out the house.

At this time, there hadn’t been any team picks yet. So, everybody was getting to know each other and sizing them up. Prior to the show, we didn’t who was going to be there, because we’d been locked up in hotel purgatory. We were checking out each other’s wounds and were all still full of adrenaline. Everybody seemed happy to be there. In the backyard, there was a big pool, a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen with a bad a-- grill, and a small palm tree island.

The refrigerator was chuck full of food, which was fantastic. Everybody was issued earplugs and a sleeping mask (We’d figure out how valuable these were later). We went to sleep knowing that the team picks were the next day. I didn’t care whose team I’d get on; I knew both Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz were great coaches and competitors and both had been dominant champions.

I was picked third to last by Chuck. I know in previous seasons it bothered some people to get picked last, but I didn’t really feel bothered. Plus, that made me an underdog. I like being the underdog. You fly under the radar, work you’re a-- off, and who knows what can happen? The only thing that really bothered me was my right elbow, my chest, and maybe Jamie Yager, a little…

The first thing I thought after the groups were selected was that I liked all the guys on my team. I knew we would get along well. Four of my six teammates also roomed with me, which was cool.

A few days passed and some of the guys’ personalities were beginning to come out. Brad Tavares, Jamie Yager, and Kris McCray were the noisy ones at first -- definitely full of “personality.” That night, they blasted the air horns at three in the morning and woke everybody up, which mainly p---ed off Tito’s team and frustrated a few of the guys on Chuck’s team as well. It was funny because when we’d first gotten in the house Yager had said, “Nobody mess with the food or people’s sleep!” It was actually a mutual agreement between everybody.

We had the first fight pick -- Kyle Noke versus Clayton McKinney. Kyle won by triangle choke in the first round. During practice, I’d noticed that Kyle was very talented. He had sharp striking and jits skills. Not to mention, he was Chuck’s No. 1 pick -- not surprising with 16-4-1 pro record and five years’ training with Greg Jackson’s camp.

Chuck and the coaches were very helpful and enthusiastic before, during, and after the fight. And let me say this now: CHUCK IS THE MAN. I didn’t know what to think of him because I don’t follow the hype too much. I knew who he was, of course. Everybody does. He’s a big deal, but in person and as a coach, it doesn’t seem that he cares of much else during the show other than what’s good for the fighters on his team.

The first week or so was a big culture shock. There were lights and cameras EVERYWHERE inside the house. I counted about thirty-five thousand lights -- give or take a few -- during my stay. I assumed they were there to get rid of shadows for the cameras. At night, it was hard to sleep because there were no doors and the lights outside the bedroom were beaming through the giant doorways and underneath my sleeping mask. Add 14 loud dudes in the house and it makes for some sh--ty sleep.

I missed my wife, Chelsea, and my son, Isaac. My boy usually wakes me up in the morning or climbs all over me while I pray and meditate. This time, instead of Chelsea and Isaac, it was a cameraman pushing large equipment in my face. I got over that quick.

The morning I’d left Utah for the show, on the way to the airport my wife told me, “I don’t want you to worry about me or Isaac while you are there. We will be taken care of. I want you to just focus on the fights and stay true to yourself.”

I kept those words close to me.

To find out more about Court McGee, visit www.courtmcgee.net
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