On August 28, 2013, Ultimate fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweights Court McGee and Robert Whittaker will do battle in a mixed martial arts (MMA) bout on the main card of UFC Fight Night 27 from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. The clash between two former "The Ultimate Fighter" (TUF) winners should be a closely matched back-and-forth battle.
McGee will look to continue his winning ways after beating Josh Neer to right the ship after two consecutive losses Costa Philippou and Nick Ring. Whittaker, on the other hand, is the fighter with more momentum on his side after winning the inaugural TUF: The Smashes Welterweight contract. Both fighters have much to prove in what will be a pivotal bout.
These two foes present an interesting contest in that both of them have very well rounded games. Fights like that can tend to be a bit unpredictable, but there's one certainty: McGee and Whittaker will both lay it all on the line.
Let's break down the backstory and keys to victory for these two hard-nosed mixed martial artists, Court McGee vs. Robert Whittaker:
Record: 15-2 overall, 4-2 UFC
Key Wins: Josh Neer (UFC 157)
Key Losses: Nick Ring (UFC 149), Costa Philippou (UFC on FX: Alves vs. Kampmann)
How he got here: McGee got to this point by fighting his way up the ranks in Utah, compiling an impressive 11-1 record to gain a spot on the TUF 11 roster. He joined fellow UFC Fight Night 27 participant Brad Tavares on Team Liddell. McGee's fight with substance abuse and addiction was well documented on the show, making him an emotional favorite.
In the Octagon, he faced off against touted prospect Nick Ring in the opening round.
Although McGee lost the bout, it was due to highly controversial decision where many thought the fight should have gone into a tiebreaker round. An injury to Rich Attonito gave McGee the chance to rematch with Ring, but it was not to be. Ring was injured and forced to withdraw, leaving McGee to face off against James Hammortree. McGee submitted Hammortree to cement a spot in the finals against Kris McCray.
McGee won that bout with another submission to become the feel-good TUF 11 champion. He continued his streak in the UFC by defeating talented wrestler Ryan Jensen via arm triangle at UFC 121, and then took a decision from Dongi Yang at UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger.
But a downswing was coming, as McGee dropped two consecutive bouts to stiff competition in Philippou and Ring. The losses left him without a win during the entirety of 2012, leaving McGee in a sort of no-man's land. Thankfully, he rebounded by beating Neer at UFC 157 last February to earn the chance to face Whittaker.
How he gets it done: McGee is a gritty fighter who likes to grind out his opponents to the point where he can easily submit them. For the most part, it's been a winning strategy, so there's little need to deviate from it for this fight. McGee's never been known for his knockout power despite having a karate background. Against a tough striker like Whittaker, he may want to secure a takedown and utilize some smothering top control. He holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so if he can get the fight to the ground, he'll open up a wealth of opportunities to finish the fight.
Whittaker isn't a man who's been finished too easily in his young career, but his only stoppage loss was due to submission.
Expect McGee to make the fight ugly and drag it into deep water, hoping to tire his opponent out and look for a late submission. It's hard to see him being finished because he's only lost decisions throughout his career, but Whittaker is a dangerous opponent with a ton of upside.
Record: 11-2 overall, 2-0 UFC
Key Wins: Colton Smith (UFC 160), Brad Scott (TUF: The Smashes Finale)
Key Losses: Jesse Juarez (Cage Fighting Championships 21)
How he got here: Whittaker fought his way to recognition by amassing a 9-2 record in Australia, plying his trade mainly in the Cage Fighting Championships promotion. When he saw the opportunity to make a name for himself on TUF: The Smashes, he took full advantage of the situation.
Whittaker proved himself to be an extremely strong prospect throughout the entire season of TUF: The Smashes. The well-rounded Australian plowed his way to the finals to face Brad Scott, winning via unanimous decision. He parlayed the contract into a shot against fellow TUF winner Colton Smith at UFC 160.
Whittaker avoided the deadly wrestling of Smith to earn a hard-fought TKO stoppage in the third round, fully announcing his presence in the UFC. He'll face a truly tough test when he steps into the Octagon to fight McGee.
How he gets it done: Whittaker is a mixed martial artist who possesses a good all-around game, evident by his five knockout and five submission victories. The experienced veteran McGee is most likely his toughest test in MMA so far, so he'll need to show up in Indianapolis in peak physical condition. McGee is a grinder who loves to slowly crush the will of his opponents, so he'll have to be on his game mentally as well.
Thankfully, Whittaker has exhibited a good amount of both of these traits in the few times he's graced the Octagon. The key for Whittaker will be to dictate where the fight goes. If he allows McGee to slow it down to his pace and make the fight an ugly one, it could be a long night for Whittaker. If he can shuck off some takedown attempts and land some subsequent flurries, Whittaker will quickly gain the upper hand.
Bottom Line: All told, this is a challenging bout for both fighters. Each has a TUF season win under their belt, which adds a good deal of intrigue to the backstory. McGee is extremely resilient, and perhaps much of that can be attributed to his bout with addiction. He's going to be nearly impossible to put away for good, and he'll keep coming forward looking for takedowns and submissions.
To combat that, Whittaker needs to stay on his toes. Any slight mistake could spell doom for the 22-year-old Aussie, but he also stands to gain a ton of recognition if he pulls out the victory. The bout could have the makings of a war, or it could be rather one-sided if McGee is allowed to gain an early advantage on the ground.
Two former TUF winners will clash in Indianapolis. Who do you pick to extend their win streak? Let us know in the comments below!