Nothing was going to stop Carlston Harris from making his return to the Octagon.
Harris has been trying to compete for over a year, but cancellations and injuries to opponents have prevented him from making that walk. Less than ten days out from UFC Fight Night: Yan vs Dvalishvili he found himself in a similar spot.
Opponent Abubakar Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw due to illness; making it two fights cancelled for Harris in just over a month. It wasn’t ideal, but “Mocambique” had to make this fight week count and it didn’t matter who he’d have to face.
“I was training for one guy, and they changed my opponent two or three times, so now on short notice they are giving me another guy, but I’m good; I’m ready,” Harris said. “I’m a fighter ready to take on anyone.”
In comes Jared Gooden, and just like that, Harris’ opportunity to fight this weekend was back on. Unfortunately, Gooden wasn’t able to make weight, but the silver lining is that Harris receives 30% of Gooden’s fight purse.
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At this point, nothing was going to stop Harris from fighting on Saturday.
“I got a new opponent and that’s fine because back at my gym we work on everything and prepare for surprises because it happens,” Harris said. “There could be injuries or people could pull out for some reason. They offered me an opponent and I did not refuse any of them. I’m here to work.”
“Anyone they put in front of me, I will take on.”
Harris’ time away from the Octagon isn’t the only motivation pushing him to compete. Just over a month ago, Harris became a father, and it changed his outlook on time management and gave him a new sense of responsibility.
“During my camp I went through a lot. I have a newborn baby and I had to be in the hospital supporting while training,” Harris said. “You change. You get more responsible. You don’t do before you think, you think before you do. The father feeling is a different level, a different feeling.”
Harris is also looking to recapture that winning feeling after suffering a defeat to Shavkat Rakhmonov in his last trip to the Octagon. The loss taught Harris some lessons and inspired him to focus on his boxing ahead of his next fight.
Harris watched Gooden’s fights versus Randy Brown and Alan Jouban and came away with the conclusion that his boxing adjustments can really shine in this matchup. He’s focused on being composed and taking advantage of his shots. If he can do that, he’s confident he’ll leave the UFC APEX with an impressive result.
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“After my last fight I went back to the gym and went to work on my boxing. I’m going to show that my boxing has improved. I’m going for the kill, man. I want to take his head off,” Harris said. “I have a card up my sleeve for him.”
An emphatic victory would be the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of Harris’ baby girl and get back to the form he found when he beat Christian Aguilera and Impa Kasanganay.
“When I’m finished fighting, I don’t want to regret anything, so I have to do it 100% and do it well,” Harris said. “I have my own motivation.”
“This is a different feeling for the first time, and I’ll use it to be my best.”
UFC Fight Night: Yan vs Dvalishvili took place live from The Theater At Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on March 11, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive all the action at UFC Fight Pass!