This Saturday night (September 17, 2011), two promising middleweights will meet as The Ultimate Fighter season 11 winner, Court McGee takes on top South Korean prospect Dongi Yang in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 25.
Court McGee is 2-0 in his young UFC career and after nearly a year off to deal with a nasty knee injury, he's all healed up and ready to get back to doing what he does best, winning. Standing in his way is a very powerful finisher in Dongi "Ox" Yang.
Dongi Yang has won his last nine fights via technical knockout. That should say enough about his finishing ability and his striking power. He's capable of ending this fight at any moment and he'll be looking to collide his fists with McGee's skull from start to finish this Saturday night.
Will McGee's knee hold up and help him shoot his way to victory? Or will Yang "Crush" the TUF season 11 winner with his powerful strikes and add another TKO to his resume? Which talented young middleweight will take a big step towards the top of the division with a victory?
Record: 13-1 overall, 2-0 in the UFC
Key Losses: Jeremy Horn (UCE)
How he got here: Court McGee has been through quite a bit in his 26 years here on this Earth. You've probably heard the story now but in case you haven't, McGee nearly died while addicted to heroin and through recovery, discovered a passion for MMA. He became sober in 2006, had his first fight in 2007 and hadn't looked back.
"The Crusher" was extremely active early in his career, taking nine fights in his first full year of mixed martial arts competition with his lone loss being to extreme veteran Jeremy Horn via decision. McGee took a five fight win streak into the tryouts for season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter, where his story captivated producers, cast members and the fans.
After initially defeating Seth Baczynski to get on the show, McGee lost a controversial majority decision in his second fight to Nick Ring. He would earn a shot to redeem himself when Rich Attonito broke his hand. The Utah native would defeat James Hammertree and Brad Tavares to advance to the show's finale.
In the finale, McGee dominated Kris McCray, choking out "Savage" in the second round to be crowned the winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 11.
In his first post-TUF fight, he would face journeyman middleweight Ryan Jenson and after being knocked down early in the first round, McGee would bounce back to eventually score a submission victory early in the third round. He was originally slated to face Jesse Bongfeldt this past June but had to back out with a knee injury.
McGee is now all healed up and ready to get back in action.
How he gets it done: McGee's most useful skills for this fight will be his wrestling and submission game. His opponent, Dongi Yang, has won his last nine fights all by TKO so he will absolutely need to be careful, especially considering that he was dropped early in his last fight against a significantly less skilled stand-up fighter in Ryan Jensen.
McGee will have to test that surgically repaired knee early and often while shooting for takedowns or pressing his opponent against the fence.
If the fight is stuck in the stand-up realm, "The Crusher" does have some respectable boxing (2-0 as a professional) and has a strong history with karate as well. He's not the fasted or most explosive fighter out there, but he's tenacious and has a ton of heart.
Look for McGee to really come hard for the takedown. He needs to either time a big strike attempt or set one up with some striking of his own before shooting in and grabbing a single or double-leg attempt. If he can get this fight to the ground, his odds of winning shoot up dramatically.
Time is also on McGee's side. Yang has had some cardio issues in the past and McGee is just the type of relentless and scrappy fighter who can take advantage of that type of situation.
Record: 10-1 overall, 1-1 in the UFC
Key Losses: none
How he got here: Dongi Yang started his career in South Korea, winning three fights in the same night, the latter two via TKO. Those technical knockouts would begin a tremendous streak of knockout victories for Yang, one he hasn't relinquished yet.
Yang would go on to compete for DEEP and Sengoku in Japan, accumulating six more TKOs and dropping to middleweight before earning an invite to the UFC last October at UFC 121 in Anaheim.
"The Ox" would draw Chris Camozzi as his opponent and despite clearly winning two rounds, the judges awarded Camozzi the split decision victories in one of the worst robberies of 2010.
The South Korean would bounce back this past March with yet another technical knockout, this time against journeyman Rob Kimmons.
Yang decided he was ready to test himself against fellow middleweight prospect Court McGee this Saturday night.
How he gets it done: Yang has a respectable judo and freestyle wrestling background and he will need to utilize all of his skills defensively to keep the bout standing. "The Ox" is considerably more powerful with his striking than McGee so he shouldn't be afraid to stand in the pocket and throw strikes.
Yang has strong kicks and especially powerful punches. McGee does not have the best striking defense so there should be an opening for him to utilize his strikes and land something significant -- as long as he can keep the fight standing.
A quick finish would also be beneficial for Yang as he does not have the best cardio out there. The longer this fight goes, the less likely he's going to secure a finish. If McGee gets a little wild with his striking, don't be surprised to see the South Korean catch a kick and take him down. He's just as capable of finishing a fight with ground and pound as he is standing.
Fight "X-Factor:" The X-Factor for this fight will be how Yang reacts to the bright lights of being in an important televised fight for the first time in his UFC career. Both of his previous bouts were buried on the undercard even before the UFC began airing all the fights on Facebook. This will be an entirely different animal for "The Ox" to deal with, something McGee has had plenty of experience with in his brief career.
Some fighters can't handle the pressure, others rise up to the occasion. Depending on which type of fighter Dongi Yang is, he could be a lion or a lamb on Saturday night.
Bottom Line: This a pretty important fight in the middleweight division. Neither of these guys are going to be contending for a title soon but both are young (26), talented and hungry. This fight will have serious ramifications in the middleweight pecking order and the winner could be poised for significantly bigger and better things. Yang is a straight finisher. He's never won a decision in his career (although he should have been awarded the decision last October). He'll be looking to knock McGee's head off from the first second of this fight. McGee's ability to respond to this threat could make this an all-out brawl or a technical ground battle. Either way, this should be entertaining.
Who will come out on top at UFC Fight Night 25? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!