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Marcus McGhee poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
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The Start Of Something Great For Marcus McGhee

UFC Bantamweight Marcus McGhee Made A Splash In His UFC Debut And He's Looking On Following That Performance Up In A Big Way At UFC Fight Night: Luque vs Dos Anjos.

Life didn’t change for Marcus McGhee a week after he scored his first UFC win over Journey Newson in April, earning a post-fight performance bonus, as well. No, he was just another husband and father who had to clean up his pond.

“That's how it goes, right?” McGhee laughs. “Life keeps going.”

Indeed, it does, even for the greatest thing since pizza. The grind never stops.

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“A hundred percent. If I didn't realize that before, I realize that now.”

Not that McGhee is complaining. A 33-year-old who had been putting in work on the regional circuit since 2020 as a pro and since 2012 as an amateur, the Arizonan won six of his last seven fights heading into the spring of 2023, and while he waited for a call to the UFC, it wasn’t something where he let life slam to a halt in the process.

Marcus McGhee poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Marcus McGhee poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

“I've really been trying to get this career going, get it really going, and it's kind of hard on the scene,” he said. “So I've been working real hard and I was just telling myself, hey, don't worry, don't stress, life is great. Keep pushing it. You're getting so much better and just be calm. So I was still in a good place. I had my family and my supporters that knew one day, even if it wasn't this week, that I was going to make it. So it was pretty nice to actually get in there and get it done.”

McGhee more than got it done. Looking like someone who wasn’t told on fight week that he was supposed to experience the first-time UFC jitters, McGhee fought like an old pro against Newson before submitting him in the second round. It was quick, exciting, clean, and not bad for someone who wasn’t scheduled to fight anyone four days before. It was a roll of the dice, for sure, for “The Maniac,” but he had no hesitation when offered the chance of a lifetime.

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“I told my two oldest because they got out of school and I'm getting everything ready to go jump on the plane and I let them know, ‘Hey, I just wanted to let you guys know I have to leave this weekend and I know you guys aren't going to be happy about that,’” said McGhee when asked about breaking the news to his teenage kids, two of the four he has with his wife Amanda. “They looked at me like, ‘Oh man, here we go again. You're leaving again.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I got to go fight in the UFC.’ And they both just went crazy. My son was on crutches and he's tripping over himself. It was pretty funny.”

And more satisfying than he could have imagined. It was a lesson to his entire family that if you work hard and persist, good things happen.

Marcus McGhee Secures Second-Round Submission In UFC Debut | UFC Fight Night: Song vs Simon
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Marcus McGhee Secures Second-Round Submission In UFC Debut | UFC Fight Night: Song vs Simon
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“I always say I'm blessed with them because I lucked out,” he said. “I have the greatest kids. I tell them all the time that they are just the light of my life and they really are. They just light me up and I love them. I love all the moments and all the talks and everything that we get to do together.”

And truth be told, McGhee is a pretty cool dad, even if he may have to give up one of his other passions – skateboarding – since he’s on the UFC roster.

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“I don't think I have to completely hang it up,” he laughs. “I think I just can't be out doing all the crazy stuff that I would do. Maybe just a couple tricks here and there instead of trying to show off and show that I'm still a professional skateboarder.”

Pro fighting, pro skateboarding…even at 33 years old, you can’t picture McGhee working a typical 9 to 5. Or can you?

“I wish I could say that, but I've actually worked a 9 to 5 for the last seven years with one company” McGhee said. “And that had a lot to play with my career, as well. Like I said, me being a family man and being a father, I didn't have my father, so one of the most important things for me was to provide for my family. It wasn't the most boring job, though, because I worked in the cannabis industry, which is a passion of mine, as well. But it definitely was more than a 9 to 5. I worked 60-hour weeks, I grinded, there's a lot of times where I worked 14 days straight and then had a fight that weekend.”

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That will either make or break a pro MMA career, and in McGhee’s case, it made him who he is today as a fighter and a man. And though he’s made it to the pinnacle of the sport, where he will face JP Buys in his second UFC fight this weekend, he hasn’t forgotten the hard times, the lessons learned and the fact that now he has the opportunity to use his time in the UFC to not just benefit himself and his family, but people around him, as well.

I'm a really spiritual guy, not religious, but a really spiritual guy, and in my conversations with God, I’ve just been thanking him that he didn't give me the opportunity earlier on in life. I've looked at a lot of different posts, saying things like God will give you what you need when you're ready for it. And I wasn't ready for it. But now, this is just the start and I'm going to do my best to impact and change so many people's lives with my platform. And that's my main goal. I want to go out there and keep winning fights so that I can go out and keep changing people's lives and show them the real important things. Fighting's very important to me and I take it very serious and I love it; I love martial arts, but that's not real life. That's competition. That's not my kids’ smile on their face and clothes on their back and that's not my neighbor's family being able to celebrate their quinceanera and have a little extra somebody there to help. That's not those things. And those are the type of things that I really look forward to being able to be a part of.”

UFC Fight Night: Luque vs Dos Anjos took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on August 12, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass