Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What a difference a year makes?

Friday November 20, 2009, Dana White, President of the UFC, is an in-studio guest on MMA Junkie Radio @ Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas during a prime time show they are having on the eve of UFC 106. I know because I was in town specifically visiting my friends who just happen to host and produce Junkie Radio.

As Dana is taking incoming calls from the listeners, a caller with a British accent gets through and says he's calling from the U.K. After a few seconds of pleasant banter back and forth, the caller chuckles, changes his accent and comes clean, "this is Gerald man I'm just joking." The caller is current UFC middleweight (185lbs.) contender Gerald 'Hurricane' Harris, not from the U.K. and definitely not British.

That now famous call may have been the turning point in Gerald Harris career. At the time, Gerald was riding a seven-fight win streak in the minor leagues of MMA or what he affectionately terms the "Bum fight circuit." He had just won the 'Shark Fights' middleweight championship over former UFC contender Nissen Osterneck and was scheduled to fight another former UFC contender, Travis Lutter.

That was the fight Gerald was banking would get him back into the UFC, but the fight fell through; a common occurrence in the smaller promotions. Frustrated and angry, he said, "I'm tired of this"; so on November 20th he took a shot, called the show and asked the boss for a job. Almost one year to the day, Saturday November 13, 2010, Gerald Harris (17-2, 8 KO's, 6 subs) will fight on the main card of UFC 123 seeking his fourth win in a row since joining the organization. What a difference a year makes?

As previously stated, Gerald has had three fights in 2010, all wins and all ending via knockout. Two of those fights garnered him KO of the night bonuses and his last one, a vicious body slam KO of David Branch, was featured as one of ESPN's top plays of the day; the first MMA fighter ever to receive such an honor.

One would think after so much success, there'd be a lot of changes in Gerald's life. However, when I asked him, his response, "the only thing that has changed is the way people treat me. I've got a lot more fans now, that's about it." When I asked how he's handling it, he said, "I've talked to my friends Rampage (Jackson) and Rashad (Evans) about it. Rashad told me, you're still a rookie in the game, you haven't even begun to peak yet."

Maybe not, but he sure is getting there. He's currently riding a ten-fight win streak and hasn't lost a fight in over three years. However, ask him and he'll tell you, "I'm not giving you a bulls**t answer right now, I don't even know what my record is. All I know is I have two losses, that's it."

It's just his persona; he's extremely humble. I interviewed him seven months ago right before his fight against Mario Miranda and he was exactly the same today as he was then. "To date, Miranda's the biggest middleweight I've ever fought", Gerald said. However his next opponent, another Brazilian, Maiquel Falcao, is a former light-heavyweight (205lbs.) fighter cutting down to 185. "He's a pitbull", Gerald says; "I'm not getting any easy fights."

Assuming he wins his next fight, he'll be 4-0 in the UFC. When asked who he'd like his next opponent to be? He said, "I'm in no position to be calling anyone out. When I get in that position, I keep my expectations low."

As humble as he is, there is one thing that Gerald has openly expressed disappointment at. He was surprised he was not nominated as a finalist for KO of the year at the 2010 World MMA Awards in December. "I really do think I deserve a nomination because it wasn't due to a normal punch or kick", speaking of his body slam finish against Branch.

Yet, when I asked if he'd rather have the award or the highlight on ESPN, his initial response, "Wow, I don't know; I plead the fifth." There is one goal he's after though, "In January I'm going full force to get into that UFC 2011 video game."

In March when I talked to him, Gerald had expressed a desire to someday pursue acting. A former professional comedian, he hoped to someday emulate the career of his idol Jamie Foxx. However, today he says, "I've got plenty of time to act, but I don't have plenty of time to fight. Right now I am solely focused on my fighting career. The closest I get to Hollywood right now is making prank calls and writing jokes on Twitter."

What a difference a year makes? If you're super humble Gerald Harris, not much. A year ago, he was driving a '98 Cadillac. Today, "I'm still driving the same Caddy. The only difference is I fixed the one windshield that was all messed up, but the air-conditioning still doesn't work; compressor cost too much money man."

Gerald Harris would like to thank everyone who supports him, from his fans to his sponsors. For a list of his sponsors, videos and much more, please visit www.hurricaneharris.com

I want to thank Gerald for taking time out of his busy schedule, including his training camp, to grant me this interview.

FYI: Gerald will be hosting a UFC 121/Lesnar vs. Velasquez viewing party on Saturday October 23rd @ Cinemark Tulsa 17 w/IMAX - 10802 E. 71st Street/Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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