Heavyweight UFC veteran Gan McGee (12-4) will return to competition for the first time in over four years to take on Jonathan Ivey (27-33) at Xtreme Fighting Championships “Salute to Our Armed Forces V” on September 13th in Tampa, Florida.
After winning five straight bouts between 2001 and 2003 McGee challenged Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 44. McGee lost to Sylvia via TKO in the opening round of the contest but Sylvia would subsequently test positive for steroids and be stripped of the heavyweight title. Despite his opponent’s positive test McGee never fought again in the UFC, instead losing back-to-back fights in PRIDE to Heath Herring and Semmy Schlit before temporarily retiring.
“Tim Sylvia is a great fighter and the videotape doesn’t lie: He beat the hell out of me,” said McGee in a press release announcing his return. “Did the steroids make a difference? Different people have different theories, I guess. But for me, what hurt the most was sacrificing absolutely everything I had to finally achieve my dream of becoming a world champion — and then falling short. And when it became clear that UFC wasn’t going to consider me for a second title shot, my entire world collapsed. I felt like a part of me had just died. It was … beyond devastating.”
“Culturally and personally, being in Japan was an amazing experience,” said McGee. “I mean, from the ceilings to the shower fixtures, everything is so small over there — I felt a little like Godzilla trampling the villagers. But professionally, I never really recovered from the Sylvia fight. Mentally, I lost that edge — that killer instinct. Call it the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or whatever you want; I was just going through the motions, unfocused and uncaring. And after losing my second fight in the Orient, I swore to myself that I would never step foot in a steel cage again — not until I regain my warrior’s mentality.”
“It took years of introspection and self-discovery, but I finally realized that God made me a giant and blessed me with this mind-blowing power for a reason: to be the most destructive heavyweight champion that’s ever walked on planet Earth,” McGee added. “Writers write, teachers teach — and giants destroy. For so many years I tried to run away from my destiny — to be something I’m not — but that part of my life has come to a screeching halt. My intensity level is off the charts right now; if I’ve gotta tear down buildings, smash open skulls or annihilate whole cities to get another title shot, then that’s what I’ll do. This time around, ‘The Giant’ will stand tall.”
Despite an overall losing record, Ivey has won nine of his past twelve bouts but was defeated by Ricco Rodriguez on July 26th in his most recent bout.
“Everyone likes to run their mouth — right until they’re smashed in the face with a fist or knee,” Ivey said. “McGee should’ve stayed retired.”
The September event will be streamed live on mmaxfc.com.