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5 Oz. of Pain Exclusive interview: TUF 7’s Gerald Harris believes his fight was stopped early; talks about comedy career; shares thoughts on his IFL experience; and more

gerald-harris.jpgWhen the cast for “The Ultimate Fighter” 7 was officially announced several months back, one name that caught my eye was Gerald Harris.

Harris was a former standout amateur wrestler who had recently transitioned to MMA when I first had heard about him. Despite not having a lot of experience, the IFL wanted to capitalize on his upside potential and brought him in as a middleweight competitor.

Competing for both Matt Lindland’s Team Quest and Pat Miletich’s Iowa Silverbacks, Harris put up an 0-2 record in ’07 against some top competition.

After his second IFL loss, Harris returned home and left his job as a high school teacher, feeling that in order to perform to the best of his ability that he would need to train full-time. Soon after making that decision, he was selected to be a part of the cast for the current season of TUF.

Going into the season, Harris was considered one of the leading favorites to win the show. As such, it was quite surprising to see him lose this past Wednesday against a lesser experienced fighter in Virginia’s Amir Sadollah. Adding to the surprise result was the fact that Harris had dominated Sadollah for much of the fight.

In spite of the heart-breaking defeat, Harris was more than willing to sit down recently with 5 Oz. of Pain and discuss the loss in detail, even going so far as to state his belief that the fight vs. Sadollah might have been stopped early.

Keep reading below to see the transcript of our conversation.

Sam Caplan: Let’s talk about the end of the fight vs. Amir Sadollah. Were you dazed by that knee, or were you out at any point from it?

Gerald Harris: It definitely dazed me for what I would say a little over one second. If you see, I am hit and I break away from the action for a split second but then I regain consciousness and shoot a single leg. So it was quick — I mean, it was kind of a good punch. Know what I’m saying? But it definitely was not a knockout because I was squeezing the hell out of his leg. It’s a bad position to be in, like Forrest (Griffin) said, it’s hard to finish a single leg on the ground with a guy swinging at you like that. There not too many things you can do but pull guard and I wasn’t about to pull guard, as I was trying to get my way around him. I didn’t take any punishment after that. He hit me in the ribs and the shoulder, but it was a bad place for the ref, like they said.

Sam Caplan: You just mentioned that you don’t feel like you took too much damage after the knee, do you feel it was an early stoppage?

Gerald Harris: I do, but (hesitates)… I don’t want to point the finger at the ref. I’ll point the finger at myself and say that I should have gotten knocked down. But I do think it was early because I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen guys get kicked in the head and lay down and get punched a couple of times and regain consciousness and get to fight. And I know it’s the ref’s job to keep us safe, but I wasn’t being hurt afterwards. If he kneed and I fell on my back and I got punched in the face a couple of times, I would not be complaining at all.

Sam Caplan: Up until the knee, you pretty much dominated that fight. Is there any feeling on your part that he got lucky with that knee that allowed him to rally?

Gerald Harris: No. And the reason why I can’t say he got lucky is because he does that knee in practice. It’s a game of chance. He took a risk and it paid off for him. It’s just me slamming someone and knocking them out. I wouldn’t call it luck because I work at it every day. It’s good that I know him out. Maybe I didn’t plan to. But I would call it luck. Luck would have been him coming across the ring and him diving at me with a knee or a punch — something untechnical. But that was something he drilled.

Sam Caplan: After you were eliminated against Amir Sadollah, you were understandably devastated. You even said at one point “That’s it.” Are you still committed to fighting?

Gerald Harris: Aw, hell yeah! I got right back in the gym as soon as I healed up. My thing right there was “This is how I feed my kids.” Know what I’m saying? Amir had just $10,000. I got zero. And I felt like the chance to be the next Ultimate Fighter had been taken away from me in ten seconds. That’s what was running through my mind, “How am I going to feed my kids?” And “What I am going to do about the UFC?” I wanted to be the next Ultimate Fighter — all the times I got up to run in the morning and all the sacrifices I made. I’m in this house for a certain amount of weeks and not even having any contact with my family. What am I getting out of it? Know what I mean?

So I was real devastated by the loss. Some guys, I wouldn’t say they didn’t care, but when they lost, it really wasn’t a big deal. They didn’t have a lot riding on it. And some of them probably didn’t even believe they were going to win the whole thing. I was 100 percent sure I was going to win the whole thing and at that moment I felt like it was all taken away.

Sam Caplan: Have you had contact with the UFC? Do they plan to keep you involved?

Gerald Harris: At this point right now I can’t say anything, because there are still second chances of getting back on the show. If someone gets injured then we get to pick who gets to take their place, in the quarters and the semis. So that’s still up in the air, so I can’t really speak on that part. That’s pretty much all I can say about that.

Sam Caplan: Prior to your involvement with TUF, you had previously fought for the IFL. What was that experience like?

Gerald Harris: That was a good (experience). That was a learning experience. My first fight, I definitely feel like I won and that it was taken away from me. But the second fight, I learned that I needed to do this full-time. I lost and I was training very hard, but I was still teaching at the same time. After I lost that fight, I quit my job and moved to Oregon and started training full-time with Team Quest.

Sam Caplan: Based on the notoriety you received via the IFL, did the UFC approach you about TUF or did you contact the UFC?

Gerald Harris: I actually didn’t think that I was going to make it onto the show because I had fought in the IFL and I heard that Dana (White) is not too happy with the IFL, and the idea of it. But I only did two fill-in bouts. I needed money so I had to go fight and go kick some butt. At the time, I thought that was big, because I wasn’t thinking about the UFC back then since I was in my first year of fighting.

Once I found out about the show, I was training at Team Quest with people like Ed Herman and other guys. Matt Lindland made a few phone calls and gave me a recommendation. I sent my video in and the video helped out a lot; me slamming people, and stuff. It was kind of a chain reaction with everything. And then I did real well in my interviews.

Sam Caplan: Are you still with Team Quest?

Gerald Harris: Yeah, I am with Team Quest. I am actually not there right now because I am back in Oklahoma with my family. But I’ve got good training back home. I’m actually on my way to Ohio right now to train with some people. I’m bouncing around right now but I am with Team Quest. That’s my team.

Sam Caplan: During the trailers to promote the show before the season, the fact that you’re also a standup comedian was also brought up. How often do you perform standup?

Gerald Harris: Actually, I took some time off when I started fighting. I stopped doing it just to focus (on fighting). But on-stage is different than fighting. I can actually walk up onto a stage right now and do a 30 minute to an hour set. It’s not like fighting. I’ve got it drilled into my head. I can always do standup, so if I get some opportunities or phone calls, I will definitely go do some shows. But my time right now is dedicated to MMA.

Sam Caplan: How did you get started with standup?

Gerald Harris: Aw man, I’ve been a class clown since I was a little kid. My first year in college, we went to a comedy club on amateur night, and they sucked. And my friends were like, “Dude, you need to go up there.” And I signed up the next week and just killed. We were only supposed to do five minutes, but I did about 20. I was just talking, man. I had no routine. Just raw; just talking.

They booked me every week after that and even offered me a job as a host but I had to go back to college. Once I got back to college, I started doing in Ohio and started booking my own shows. It paid off for me real well. I love comedy.

Sam Caplan: Do you think comedy is something you’ll get back into?

Gerald Harris: I like what Joe Rogan does. I’d love to perform with Joe Rogan. I’d love to be in movies. Whatever. But I kind of stay away from that stuff because I want to focus on MMA. But I love comedy and acting.

Sam Caplan: Who do you consider to be the best standup comics around right now?

Gerald Harris: Damn. That’s a good one. There’s a couple.

Sam Caplan: Just give me your top three.

Gerald Harris: In the past? Or can we just go with current?

Sam Caplan: Whatever you prefer. You can go with both, if you want.

Gerald Harris: Well, I definitely like Chris Rock. That’s an obvious one. Lisa Lampanelli is funny as hell. And there’s one more. What is his name? I can think of it. Let me just stick with those two. There’s too many names. I could go on and on. But my favorite actor is Jamie Foxx… and Will Smith. I look up to those two.

Sam Caplan: Is there a standup comic out there who got really famous that you just think is overrated?

Gerald Harris: No, I mean, I’ve seen some people that I thought weren’t that funny, but I understand the hustle. I understand the grind. There’s more to it than just their ten minutes up on stage. I didn’t see all the times they got booed off the stage, or how many meetings they went to. I don’t really judge them by that. If you make it, I’m proud for you.

Sam: What’s next for Gerald Harris?

Gerald Harris: I don’t know man, the sky’s the limit. You know what? I am only getting better. That’s the thing people don’t know; I’ve only been fighting for about a year and half, and I’m only getting better, man. My goal right now is to improve and every time people see me, they’re like “Wow, look at him now.” I’m still sticking with the slams but working on these hands and working on knocking some people out (laughs). We’ll see what happens. But I think people want to see more of me. That’s the one thing I received from a lot of fans, that they want to see me fight again. That’s a blessing for people to want to see me fight.

14 COMMENTS
  • screwface says:

    what a sore loser
    he clearly said at the end of the fight
    “i was knocked out!” and was mad at himself for being ktfo.
    im very disappointed in him, not humble at all, give your opponent credit and move on.

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  • UFC69INTX says:

    i gotta tell you, i like the guy, but the fact that he said “the punch” and it was a knee, kinda loses credibility with me… i would definitely like to see him fight in the ufc and build his name with some b level fighters and move his way up, after a little bit of stand up training the guy can be a force, just my opinion

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  • Hemming says:

    I had a very mixed reaction to seeing the fight stopped when it was.

    However … If I were to compare it to another recent call, GSP vs Serra 2, it felt very similar in nature.

    The call of the ref is to see if you are intelligently defending against strikes … at least I think that is the wording of people that call the matches. GSP was using knees to the body, Amir was using strikes to the head.

    Both opponents basically went to the fetal position, face-down/turtle style, to just absorb the punishment … with the intent of getting up ‘soon’ or a burst to get out of the situation.

    The match was called because of sequential unanswered blows. It’s the call to make, wheather I like it or not is a WHOLE nother story.

    Hemming

    ps. I love fighters that have a style like Jackson, or Harris. Big Slams & Ground’n’Pound ^__^

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  • Adam Morgan says:

    Screw-

    He said “I was not out” not “knocked out.”

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  • A.C Slater says:

    Screwface,

    I actually think he handled this gracefully. I’d be F%^ckin pissed if I was COMPLETELY dominating someone the way he was manhandling Sadollah and then I ended up losing on an iffy call like that. Sure he should have been working for better positioning, but the truth is he was recovering and wasn’t REALLY in very much danger. I thought Harris’ refusal to openly call out the ref was classy. That being said, I was rooting for Sadollah. Harris is just so, so strong. I love seeing dudes like that get taken out by a little guy who keeps plugging away.

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  • Davey D says:

    I’d like to see Gerald Harris back again. The sky really is the limit for him. Mix in a few more years of boxing and jits with this kid. We could have another former TUF star climb the ranks and make a huge splash.

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  • screwface says:

    adam if your right, then i stand corrected and apologize to gerald…but that being said, it really sounded like he was saying “i was knocked out” to me, and quite frankly he was knocked out. yes he dominated the fight, but his takedowns became telegraphed after a while, i knew the knee was coming way b4 it came because he was fighting like a 1 trick pony. either way when you lose take it like a man and learn from it and congratulate the winner. the ko was clear to me even if his comments werent. and btw i was rooting for gerald.

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  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I don’t buy the “completely dominated” argument. Basically, that’s just saying that he was winning, but then lost. Sorta obvious, isn’t it? Furthermore, it wasn’t that dominating. Amir survived the slams, fought off the takedown attempts, and beat him with his strength–striking. that having been said, I totally agree that Harris has terrific wrestling skill and strength and would like to see him fight again.

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  • This guy dont know what he wants…You can tell from this Q&A he is not focused and is wondering aimlessly without real direction. It’s sad, but it could be worse. He could have a Gabe Ruedigar type of reputation. This guy fought is ass off. Gabe did not have the guts to get in the octagon.

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  • Sam Cupitt says:

    It would be pretty strange if he yelled, “I was knocked out!”

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  • Patrick says:

    It was not an “iffy call” that the ref made, come on people, dude was knocked out. He dropped instantly.

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  • Shaun Stoffer says:

    let’s be real the fight maybe should have gone a second or two longer but that man was out. he didn’t completely turtle and pull guard and scramble he just dropped to his knees laid his hands on the ground and took some hits. wasnt intelligently defending himself at all.

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  • HexRei says:

    Shaun, he had ahold of one of Amir’s legs and was limiting the areas Amir could strike by partially turtling. Admittedly, it wasn’t much of an active defense but he wasn’t out. a wrestler can take those kind of punches to the side of the head and shoulders all day long.

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  • victor says:

    he came out in the second round gassed. it was clear that was going to get him in trouble against a striker.

    once he was down, it didnt look like amir was doing much damage. gerald probably could have survived, but like forrest said, “he chose the wrong time to take a rest.” you will notice the more experienced fighters make certain movements to show the ref they are still safe (recall frank mir shifting his head properly while getting pumelled by brock lesnar).

    hopefully we havent seen the last of him.

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