OREM — Sitting on the mat of the Orem gym where he's trained for two years, Court McGee watched his fight on Ultimate Fighter 11 surrounded by friends and family.
When the Layton native knocked Brad Tavares to the ground with less than 30 seconds left in the second round, the crowd erupted in cheers. The cheering and clapping only grew louder as he put Tavares into a rear naked choke and earned a win by submission.
The semifinal victory means McGee will fight in the Spike TV Ultimate Fighter Final on Saturday, June 19, in Las Vegas. If he wins, he will sign a contract with the UFC for six figures. He will also have a shot at some of the best opponents in the sport.
When McGee got the call in January that he was going to be on the reality television show, he was happy for the opportunity.
"They said, 'You're coming to Vegas — and don't tell anybody,' " he said.
His wife, Chelsea, said she felt good about his chances on the show all along.
"I was excited," she said. "I had a really good feeling about it." McGee said he went in just hoping to take advantage of the opportunity.
"I went in open-minded," he said. "I wasn't make or break, though. We were happy as a family, so that's what mattered most."
Tavares was considered a favorite to win and was heavily favored in the semifinal.
McGee said it's been a valuable learning experience. "This is something I've been doing since I was 5 years old," said the former high school wrestler. "I quit my job as a full-time plumber to do this."