No events this week…but a major piece of news that has left this columnist questioning a few things about the business of Mixed Martial Arts.
If you’ve ever read my column before, you know how much I hype up middleweight Gerald Harris. A former Ultimate Fighter cast member who was unable to win a contract, fought and battled his way back to the company, fighting every chance he got, even the week of his own brother’s death. This man puts in as much work as anyone in the business, and it was paying off, as he came back to the UFC, won three straight fights, and made SportsCenter’s top plays with a KO slam over Dave Branch.
His exciting wrestling style gained him many fans, and with his fan base and visibility growing, he was given a fight against relative unknown (in this country at least), but very experienced Maiquel Falcao on the Pay per view portion of UFC 123, a card headlined by Harris’ former mentor, Rampage Jackson. Falcao is from the Chute Box camp, that spawned deadly strikers such as Shogun Rua and Wanderlei Silva. Needless to say, getting into a boxing match with Falcao would not be a wise decision.
With his six inch reach advantage, Harris used his jab wonderfully to open the fight. Due to the height difference, it was extremely difficult for Harris to use his wrestling to get his hips under that of Falcao’s, Yet anytime he would attempt to, it would close the distance and put Falcao, the dangerous striker in his comfort zone.
Harris did a great job fighting off the ground attack and submission attempts. The first round WAS stopped 8 seconds early, but Falcao held on to a choke that almost cost him a point deduction, for Harris though, he lost the first two rounds without question….then the third round happened. Harris won the third round. Not because he dominated the opponent, but Falcao simply wouldn’t fight. He knew he’d won the first two round soundly, and decided to coast to victory. For five whole minutes, Falcao ran from Harris. Anyone that has sparred or fought in MMA, its not as easy as bull rushing someone and dominating them. Yellow card systems, that deduct points and purse money should be instituted to prevent this type of garbage from happening. Because this DID happen, Gerald Harris got released.
The same Gerald Harris that is 3-1 in the UFC. The same Gerald Harris whom had a highlight knockout on ESPN in July. The same Gerald Harris that was on a ten fight win streak before last Saturday. Harris made a legit effort, worked his ass off, and was punished because he wouldn’t fight in an irresponsible manner.
I would be much more apt to understand the reason for the release if this was a habitual offense in Harris’ matchups, but it isn’t. This isn’t a Jon Fitch situation where there have been previous complaints about his lack of killer instinct, this was the first time in memory this has occurred. Phil Baroni is 2-6 in the UFC, Matt Brown has lost three straight. Both of them have jobs because they fight in a reckless manner.
Dana White is right, The UFC is not the “Ultimate Staring Competition”, but it’s also not the “Ultimate Scrub Bar Fight Competition” either. We all love exciting fights, and admittedly, when the gloves are thrown on, sometimes technique and training is forgotten when adrenaline takes over. Harris has three losses on his record. A decisive TKO loss to Benchi Radach, a fight against Fabio Leopoldo in which he got robbed of a victory, and last Saturday’s debacle.
17-3 is impressive, regardless of the talent level. This is a guy who has trained with Rampage Jackson at team Wolfslair, Ryan Bader at Arizona Combat Sports, Trevor Wittman at Grudge fighting center, as well as Team Quest. This guy knows what he’s doing and is committed to the sport. If you follow his twitter @Ghurricane , you can tell how heartbroken this soft spoken, hard working guy is.
It’s a shame a fair balance can’t be found between excitement, boredom, and what is right. Gerald Harris being a UFC employee is what is right. If you would like to voice your opinion, send a message to Dana White on twitter or simply tweet “#bringbackgeraldharris”.
Next week we’ll cover the upcoming Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu card.
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