A ridiculous highlight-reel knockout slam of Dave Branch at UFC 116, which made ESPN's Sportscenter top plays list, as well as 10 straight wins -- with all but one of them coming by way of submission or (technical) knockout -- wasn't enough to keep Gerald Harris competing inside the Octagon after a frustrating decision loss to Maiquel Falcao at UFC 123.
Nope, despite his respectable UFC record (3-1), and two "Knockout of the Night" bonuses, "Hurricane" was inexplicably handed his walking papers after "The Ultimate Staring Competition" with the Brazilian in Nov. 2010.
Indeed, Harris was forced to move on and continue his career elsewhere. Unfortunately, he dropped his most recent fight, losing a unanimous decision to James Head at Xtreme Fight Night 2 late last month.
In the latest edition of "Fans Interview Fighters," we caught up with Harris to hear what he had to say about his surprise dismissal from the UFC, his next fight and so much more.
Check it out:
Ulf Murphy (Fan) – There seems to still be so much speculation around your dismissal from the UFC. In fact, most fans feel they don’t know the real reason behind it. Could you tell us what really happened?
Gerald Harris: Just a bad performance from my understanding, there's a small room for error when your an up and coming fighter. I was already walking a thin line because I didn't win TUF 7, so I needed to make the most of my opportunities and unfortunately I didn't.
Thorazine (Fan) – Falcao stated you tapped on three different occasions at UFC 123, you say you didn’t. In the last few seconds of the first round it appeared you had difficulty suppressing a tap from the rear naked choke ... is that what happened? You heavily criticized your own game plan for the Falcao fight, who was involved in implementing it and what would you have done differently?
Gerald Harris: I have never wanted to or pretended to tap during any fight in my career. I do believe that reaching for the wrist defense and shaking my hand "thumbs up" to the ref could have easily been mistaken for that. You'd have to re-watch the fight to understand what I'm saying. That would be a huge dishonor to my jiu-jitsu coach and team. I wouldn't disgrace them in that way. [in reference to the Falcao game plan] I'll keep that to myself, but it was just a snowball effect of bad things, but I didn't quit. I just didn't fight smart and paid the price for it. That's all.
magicmike (Fan) – After not getting a fight on the Finale after your TUF season, you lobbied Dana to give you another shot. Do you see yourself doing something similar after this dismissal, or are you cutting ties with the UFC for good?
Gerald Harris: Not winning TUF 7 was a blessing because I wasn't ready for the UFC. I'm a totally different fighter now and in a different position than I was in the first release. I'm focused on improving and winning fights, but my future is determined day to day. At the age of 31 there's no room for bouncing around between organizations, so wherever I end up is where I will retire.
DetroitDrew (Fan) – I recall almost immediately after the loss in Detroit most were predicting you would be snatched up in no time by either Strikeforce or Bellator, yet you already have your second fight scheduled with a smaller promotion. Were you surprised that Strikeforce publically stated they were not interested, citing a new direction to not sign UFC fighters coming off of loses despite having recently signed Daley?
Gerald Harris: People took Coker's words out of context. He simply stated that he doesn't want to be a dumping ground for any organizations. They have enough middleweights and are not in need of new talent right now, so I agree with what he said.
Deuce02 (Fan) – With which team do you feel you have progressed the most as a fighter? What were some of the differences between Team Quest, AZ Combat Sports and Grudge? Do you think you have found a permanent home at Grudge?
Gerald Harris: Grudge is my team, but I train in Oklahoma with Ghost Dog Boxing - they are responsible for my growth in MMA. All the other teams added pieces to my skill set, but Ghost Dog is where I train 90 percent of the time. It's a bonus to be taken into the Grudge family because I get to train with some amazing partners.
*Californication* (Fan) – You came into the fight game from the stand up comedic scene, what made you decide to make such a seemingly odd transition, and is stand-up something you ever see yourself doing again?
Gerald Harris: I love comedy and still plan on performing. It's a test of your true character because your on the stage alone, which is similar to MMA. There's no help, just you and the mic. I would love to get into acting when I retire from MMA ... similar to Jamie Fox, Will Smith and Kevin James.
TheGreg (Fan) – In your TUF fight with Amir Sadollah, you protested vehemently following the ref stoppage stating that you were never out. After watching the fight do you still think the stoppage was premature? And has it changed the way you address the referee during the pre-fight instructions in the locker room (i.e. do you ask them to make sure you’re really out before stopping a fight)?
Gerald Harris: Damn, you guys like pulling scabs off of old wounds, huh [Laughs]? I wasn't out, but he caught me pretty good. It's not the referee's responsibility to block strikes for me. I'd rather have an early stoppage and fight again soon than be possibly injured. It's a negatively viewed, but positive aspect of our sport. In MMA fighters who can't defend themselves are protected by the referee to limit brain damage and other injuries.
Yan117 (Fan) – Despite the recent decision that didn’t go your way, the fight against Fabio Leopoldo must have done wonders for your self-confidence in submission defense. You fought all of his numerous attempts off and you kept taking him down as if he was no threat. Were you at any time in trouble in that fight?
Gerald Harris: I didn't even know what a knee bar was when I fought Leopoldo. I was basically training in my garage with a heavy bag and coaching high school wrestling practices. I was a raw talent and it's allowed me many victories that the average fighter couldn't get. I was in a lot of trouble that fight, but never close to being finished. I'll never understand that loss especially since I dropped him with a 1-2 combo in the third round. I gained a lot of exposure in the fight.
DetroitDrew (Fan) – Do you feel UFC and even Strikeforce fighters are underpaid in comparison to the profits those organizations bring in? Do you feel that fighter’s contracts should include year round healthcare to cover injuries that occur during training, and how do you think a fighter union would affect the sport?
Gerald Harris: No, No, No. And a union could help or really hurt the sport. I consider these jobs as being underpaid -- policemen, teachers, firemen and military jobs are being cut daily -- but fighters are responsible for winning, entertaining and marketing themselves to make money. Spend it wisely and you can afford healthcare, bills and other responsibilities. Even if you're cut from this job, there are many opportunities out there to be successful.
TheGreg/ David W-S (Fan) – You’re scheduled to face Anthony Ruiz on May 5, 2011. Even though you match up well with him stylistically (since his strength is his striking), are you doing anything differently in training after losing your last two fights?
Gerald Harris: That's a secret. Anthony is a very experienced opponent and trains with one of the best teams in the world. For me to give up my gameplan is like a football team sending its playbook to the opposing coaching staff. You'll have to tune in to see.
I appreciate my fans and your continued support. Please keep your eyes on my website (http://HurricaneHarris.com/) and my facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/GeraldHarrisMMA) for future news and announcements. I'm also on Twitter at twitter.com/ghurricane