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Harris hopes to make most of rival's big shot



On Episode 4 of “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight,” co-stars White, Matt Serra and Nick the Tooth traveled to Minneapolis, where they discovered heavyweight prospect Cody East. After an impressive performance, the 6’3” Albuquerque product landed a UFC contract, and he will get his welcoming party at UFC 197 this Saturday from “The Big Ticket,” Walt Harris.

“It’s not going to be a good party for him man, I come to bring it,” Harris said. “I come to fight every time I step into the Octagon and that’s what I plan to do on April 23rd.”

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East brings an impressive 12-1 record into the Octagon, and while Harris is looking for his first UFC win after three attempts, he’s not taking anything for granted against the promotion’s newest heavyweight.

“I’ve had a chance to study him and he comes for it,” Harris said. “But a lot of his skill set plays into what I like to do, which is stand and trade, and I’m hoping he brings that to the table so we can give the fans what they’re coming to see. I’m always looking to get the KO. I’m trying to finish fights and that’s what the UFC signed me for. I’m looking to get to Vegas, and on the night of Jon Jones’ return it would be a great stamp for me to get my first win in the UFC. That’s what I’m looking for.”

Harris, a father of four who trains at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, says his wife and kids are his “why” when people ask him why he fights. And bringing home a victory – particularly for his daughter, who had a birthday during this camp – is extremely important.

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That, and he wants to get a post-victory interview with Joe Rogan.

“I was in the shower just thinking about that in my head and going over it,” he laughs. “I’m living the dream. I’ve always dreamed of being in the UFC, talking to Joe and hearing Bruce Buffer say my name. That’s awesome. You go through those things in your spare time and it’s an exciting thing. I’ve performed in front of big crowds before so I know what to expect come fight night, and nerves don’t affect me in a negative way. It actually gets me in a good space when I feel the butterflies. It usually doesn’t affect me until I’m walking out and I hear the crowd, but by the time I reach the checkpoint those nerves are gone and it’s showtime. I’ve trained hard and worked hard and now it’s time to perform.”

Harris, primarily known for his knockout power, says he’s constantly evolving under the tutelage of UFC veteran Din Thomas, whom he says is the reason he trains away from his family at ATT.

“We are very close. We talk, we train together, we work out together and his insight is invaluable. Seeing things from his perspective - he’s been in there and done so much in the sport - I’m just blessed to have him on my side, for sure,” he said.

One of things the two have talked about is believing in himself a bit more. After three losses in the promotion, it’s crunch time, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to Harris. The man is as optimistic as they come, and he sounds like he’s on a three-fight win streak rather than a slide.

“I think the division is wide open and I feel like the future is bright for me in the division and I think the UFC believes in me as well, which is why they’ve given me as many chances as they have,” he says. “I just need to be myself and let it all hang out on fight night. I’ve been threatening with submissions and utilizing the tools that God gave me, like a long reach and big frame, so I’m definitely evolving and getting better.”

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