Filed under: News, Radio Highlight
Before Gerald Harris stepped into the cage for the final time, he told his coach he wanted to have fun. He wanted to slug it out, even if he got into trouble.
The coach was a bit skeptical.
For so many years, Harris (23-5), a veteran of “The Ultimate Fighter 7,” was rightfully concerned about what he did in the UFC octagon. When things got a little too hot upstairs, he always had his wrestling to fall back on.
Not this time, though. He vowed to do what he wanted, when he wanted. It was his last fight, so he might as well enjoy it.
It also helped that the last fighter to stand in front of him was a total jerk. Matt McKeon (4-5), Harris said, had berated him in the leadup to the fight, scheduled for an Oct. 21 Xtreme Fight Night event in his native Tulsa, Okla. The idea of a respectful sendoff apparently was too much to ask.
Not only that, but McKeon was also unprofessional; he came in overweight.
“I was in the sauna, I was in the hot tob, I was wrestling – I was (two-tenths of a pound) under (weight), and he’s three pounds over,” Harris told MMAjunkie Radio. “He goes, ‘Hey, we’re even. We both worked hard.’ I said, ‘Nah, you’ve got to make weight.’
“He was like, ‘(Expletive) you, punk! You don’t want to fight, you (expletive).’ He tried to fight me at weigh-ins. I said, ‘Why don’t you put your sauna suit on and try to fight me, and then you’ll lose the weight.’”
Backstage at the event this past Saturday, Harris said McKeon tried to intimidate him by yelling and screaming death threats. When the fight started, so did McKeon’s mouth.
“‘You ain’t no slam king, (expletive),’” Harris remembers of McKeon’s color commentary. “‘You can’t slam me, (expletive).’ And (he) flips me off.
“One minute later, that same hand he flipped me off with was on the back of his (expletive) head.”
After three rounds, Harris had had enough. He wanted to bang it out, and he’d done so. Spinning sh*t, even. But he felt an overwhelming urge to use another big weapon – one that made him famous, one that made former UFC matchmaker Joe Silva leap out of his seat like an overheated teenager. He wanted to slam.
So, in the fourth round, Harris drove for a takedown. He got his arms under McKeon’s legs. And he elevated his opponent in the air before shifting direction and driving down.
Here’s the graphic (warning: again, it’s graphic) ending (via Facebook):
It wasn’t the kind of slam that had made him Internet famous. He wasn’t locked in McKeon’s guard the way David Branch was when they met at UFC 116, and Branch instantly went limp as his head bounced off the canvas. Or in his previous fight, where his comically overweight opponent met the same fate. But unfortunately for McKeon, a lapse of spatial awareness made the result much, much worse.
McKeon made the mistake of posting his arm as Harris slammed him to the mat. The force of the takedown crumpled it gruesomely underneath his body. When Harris stood up, after a frantic tap, the limb hung like a branch as McKeon grabbed the cage.
Harris let out a barbaric yawp, par for the course with a fighter celebrating a big win – but in the context of what had just happened, a cruel final note.
Of course, Harris felt bad. When the adrenaline subsided and the gravity of what just happened hit, he found his empathy. But he also felt pretty good about sending up a bully.
“It’s like getting a touchdown,” he said. “You don’t care about getting a penalty.”
Harris knew McKeon’s weight cut would leave him vulnerable to a slam, and so he went after it. Online critics chastised his response. He understood. He just knew the score.
“I wish I could GIF that video of him flipping me off, and then him getting his arm broke,” Harris said.
Now, the 37-year-old vet will, presumably, call it a career. All things considered, it was a pretty impressive one. Since his release from the UFC, he went 6-2 in the cage. Overall, he earned a professional record of 23-5.
No. 23 came with a gruesome footnote. He just can’t lie; it also came with a lot of satisfaction.
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.