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.