Walt Harris’ return to the Octagon on Saturday night at UFC on ESPN 8 was an emotional one, fueled by the murder of his daughter in Oct. 2019. UFC made the tale a big part of the event’s storyline (with Walt’s permission - his family is hoping it will help pass Aniah’s Law, which would overhaul the Alabama bail law that freed the man who would end up shooting her), and it was pretty much impossible not to root for the up and coming heavyweight in his main event fight against Alistair Overeem.
Unfortunately, MMA doesn’t care about feelings. The fighters with the most uplifting or heartbreaking stories often lose, and violently. After a quick start that saw Harris come fractions of a second away from forcing a stoppage due to heavy blows, Alistair Overeem scrambled into top position and took control of their fight. In the second round, an exhausted Harris once again ended up underneath Overeem on the canvas, a bad place to be in any fight let alone one against a 250 pound behemoth.
It took roughly a half-minute of Overeem ground and pounding a flattened out Harris before the referee stepped in and stopped things (watch the finish here). A dejected Harris lay exhausted and beaten on the mat with an almost equally sad Overeem offering him sympathy. It wasn’t the storybook ending the UFC and ESPN probably wanted, but that’s sports for you.
It also wasn’t all bad. Harris has made huge strides recently after starting his UFC career off with a middling back and forth of wins and losses. His last two fights were knockouts in under a minute, showing he had harnessed his power potential. Just coming in and nearly flattening a veteran like Overeem shows Harris still has what it takes to hang at the top. With that in mind, let’s check out Walt’s post-fight statement that he released on Instagram early Sunday morning.
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First let me thank @alistairovereem for sharing the octagon we me tonight... You’re a class act brother and a legend! Tonight wasn’t my night, but you best believe I will be back better! Thank to everyone for all your love and support can’t say it enough! We learn and grow! Baby girl... daddy loves you and I promise I will keep pushing! #ForeverAniah
“First let me thank Alistair Overeem for sharing the octagon we me tonight,” he wrote. “You’re a class act brother and a legend! Tonight wasn’t my night, but you best believe I will be back better! Thank to everyone for all your love and support, can’t say it enough! We learn and grow! Baby girl... daddy loves you and I promise I will keep pushing! #ForeverAniah”
For complete UFC on ESPN 8 results and play-by-play coverage click here.