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Gerald Harris – Don’t Lose

“I don’t like fighting. I just love winning."

Gerald HarrisGerald
Harris laughs when he tells you, “I’m not a fighter.” In fact, he goes
even further to say “The last fight I had was in the sixth grade.”
Those are statements the 15 people he’s already beaten in his four
year mixed martial arts career would probably take issue with, but as
he explains, “I don’t like fighting. I just love winning, I love
competition. It’s the closest thing I can get to wrestling, and I can’t
explain what a victory feels like. A knockout is like a game-winning
shot or touchdown and I’m addicted to that feeling.”
And he’s damn good at finding that feeling pretty regularly these
days. Winner of nine in a row dating back to 2007, Harris has also
knocked out his last four opponents, including a 46 second blitz of UFC
vet Nissen Osterneck, and back to back UFC TKOs over John Salter and
Mario Miranda. Not bad for a guy who started fighting just to pick up a
couple bucks on the side after graduating from Cleveland State
University.
“It was pretty much to pay bills,” said Harris of his early days in
the sport. “It wasn’t a hobby, I wasn’t training, I didn’t have a gym.
‘I can make some money on the side,’ that’s what MMA was to me.”
Harris’ wrestling ability got him to a 7-2 record and a spot on The
Ultimate Fighter’s seventh season, but then his roof caved in after
losing to Sadollah.

“I was so ignorant to MMA; all I knew was wrestling, even on The
Ultimate Fighter,” he said. “I was training at a high school wrestling
gym when I was on The Ultimate Fighter, but when I lost to Amir I made
some changes in my life. I made some business decisions and I truly
focused a hundred percent on MMA. People always ask me if I want a
rematch (with Sadollah) or if I want to get him, and I’m like ‘nah, he
did me a favor.’ So after that loss and I didn’t win The Ultimate
Fighter, which I wasn’t ready to anyway, I really made a conscious
effort toward taking this seriously.”
He hasn’t lost since, and in addition to talent and dedication,
Harris has also used a wanderer’s approach to the fight game, traveling
around the globe to learn new things to add to his game.
“In the past, I traveled so much and I loved it,” said Harris, who
now calls the Grudge Training Center and Ghost Dog Gym his two training
homes. “I love learning from different people and I didn’t like being
in one place and repeating the cycle over and over. I’ve been
everywhere – overseas, all across the country, from east to west coast
– and I learn something new everywhere I go. Not to be rude, but I can
work with the weakest guy in the gym and learn something, and I can go
with the best guy in the gym and learn something. I could be sparring
with a guy considered to be weak and he can catch me with something,
and I’m like ‘whoa, how’d you catch me with that?’ And now I’ve got a
new move. So I’m doing nothing but adding to my arsenal when I travel.”
The call to the UFC came late last year, and as he stepped off the
scale the day before his Octagon debut against late replacement John
Salter, UFC President Dana White shook his hand and told him the words
he had been waiting to hear since 2008: “You got your shot.”
“It wasn’t pressure, I liked it, and he knows how hard I worked,” said Harris. “I built myself up, built a little ufn21_02_harris_vs_miranda_010fan
base and you can’t come in there and lose – not by decision, not by tap
out. I had to win, and it served as motivation for me. I didn’t freeze
up, I didn’t choke, and I felt good out there.”
Harris took Knockout of the Night honors for his third round TKO of
Salter, and then took less than a round to halt Miranda two months
later. On Saturday, he looks to make it 3-0 when he tackles his third
straight Octagon newcomer, Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt David
Branch.
“I know Renzo brings the best out of people,” said Harris. “I
actually fought a Renzo guy a couple years ago, Fabio Leopoldo, so I
know what to expect. I know that nobody in the UFC is gonna be a
pushover, and I know that with Renzo and the Gracie family, when you
attach that to anybody, you definitely have to step your game up, so
we’ll be ready.”
And regardless of Branch’s experience level, the first time Octagon
jitters, and all the other factors that may swing the pre-fight
prognostications in Harris’ favor, this is one “Hurricane” who is calm
not only in the eye of the storm, but everywhere.
“People may not believe it, but I learned from yesterday, I focus on
today, and prepare for tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t even know how many
fights I’ve won in a row, I’m very grateful to be 2-0 in the UFC, but
that’s the past; if I don’t keep working, I can’t keep that up. I just
go out there and beat whoever they put out there, and I’m gonna keep
that attitude the whole time. I’m just staying humble and staying
focused.”
Sounds like a fighter to me. But for argument’s sake, what did happen in that sixth grade fight?
“We’re good friends now,” he laughs. “I’m gonna call it a tie.”