The lead up and the fight itself are where the excitement builds and peaks. The kicks and punches. The grappling and wrestling. The lights, crowd and action.
But what happens when the fight is over? What does it take to recover from a mixed martial arts bout that tests the body's endurance, strength and emotion?
Utahn and UFC fighter Court McGee fought his 25th professional fight on Jan. 15 — losing a decision to fellow welterweight Ben Saunders to bring his overall MMA record to 19-6.
In this six-part video series, McGee describes what it takes and what it's really like to recover from a UFC fight — both mentally and physically.
The first day after a fight
The first 24 hours after a fight are a draining whirlwind. Participants go through physical examinations, media interviews and the high or low of winning or losing a fight. McGee rarely sleeps the night before a fight because of his nerves and fears. Here, he describes the crash after the adrenaline of preparing for and participating in a fight.
In his fight with Saunders, McGee suffered lacerations above both of his eyes that required stitches, swollen ankles and soreness and bruising all over his body. With the type of lacerations he suffered, the UFC mandates he be medically suspended for 45 days.
Easing back to health
McGee will take it easy after the first few weeks of a fight to avoid infection in his stitches, focusing on conditioning rather than sparring or grappling. He uses cryotherapy to speed up his healing process, sticks to a strict vegetable-based diet and regains a normal sleep schedule.
Getting back into shape to fight again
After the initial healing period of 45 days, McGee starts to ramp up his training after his body again feels right. He'll request a new fight in late spring or early summer before starting an intense six- to eight-week training camp. Then he'll be ready to fight again.
Why he continues to fight
McGee struggled with substance abuse but has been sober for more than a decade. Along with fighting for his family and because of his appreciation for the art of competition, he uses his influence and high profile to inspire others to stay on the path to recovery or stay sober.