Middleweight Gerald Harris is taking his talents to… the Far East.  The veteran fighter signed with Japanese promotion Dream in July.  His debut will come against Kazuhiro Nakamura on Sept. 24 in Saitama, Japan.

Speaking to The MMA Corner, Harris explained why he chose to sign with the promotion, “Fighting in Japan will be great.  The biggest factor is the experience of fighting in numerous organizations and the possibility of being their champion.”

Another factor in Harris’ decision was the flexibility in his contract. “It allows me to fight here (in the US) between my fights in Dream,” said Harris.  “That allows me to stay active.”

With all of the positives Harris sees in his new promotion, there is one small problem that he was quick to identify.

Gerald Harris (R) battles Dave Branch (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

“(Now) I have to get HDNet because my cheap ass doesn’t have it,” joked the fighter.  “And it’s annoying as hell trying to explain to people that I fight in the evening in Japan, but it airs here that morning.”

The time difference might seem like an interesting challenge for someone who has never competed outside of the US, but Harris doesn’t see it that way.

“They are 14 hours ahead and I basically lose a day after sleeping the whole 12-hour flight there.  It shouldn’t bother me,” said Harris.

Harris’ opponent, Kazuhiro Nakamura, has faced a who’s who of the MMA world while competing largely in Pride, Sengoku and the UFC.  The judoka has wins over many pioneering names of the sport, including Kevin Randleman, Murilo Bustamante and Igor Vovchanchyn.

Harris compares Nakamura to his last opponent, Anthony Ruiz.  He defeated Ruiz by unanimous decision under the Tachi Palace banner in May.

“He has a lot of experience and you can’t judge him by his record,” Harris said of the 15-10 fighter.  “I know what I have to do when I get in there.”

One of the other changes that Harris must face as he adapts to the Japanese promotion is that Dream uses a traditional boxing ring, rather than a cage.  Although nearly all of his fights have occurred in a cage, Harris is not concerned.

“We have a ring and a cage in our gym, so I am prepared for everything,” declared the Oklahoma-based fighter.  “I have to be careful picking people up in rings so we don’t go flying out!”

Harris recently was mired in some controversy after a number of other fighters claimed that performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) were used by as many as 85% of fighters.  While he can’t speak for everyone, Harris vehemently denounced those claims.

“The only people that can give out statistics and numbers (like that) are people who have the facts,” said Harris.  “Maybe 85% of the people they’ve been around are on them, but don’t include the entire sport. PEDs exist in almost every sport, but MMA is getting the wrap for it and it doesn’t help when our elite athletes throw out assumptions for the general public to read.”

Gerald Harris (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

The topic came to light for Harris not long after he signed with Dream.  For years, Japanese promotions have been criticized for substandard or complete lack of post-fight drug screening.  Harris openly stated that he would take tests both before and after his fight.  However, after further investigation, Harris learned why promotions rarely choose to implement thorough testing.

“I talked all that shit and found out that a steroids test is $500.  If anyone is willing to cough up the cash, I’ll take the test!” Harris said with a laugh.  “I’ll be tested on any day at any time and hopefully in Japan.  Seriously, I thought that all blood test were steroids test, but I guess it’s just the urine sample after the fights.”

Harris knows he’s not part of the problem, but he’s looking at the big picture, “I pray that 85% of fighters are doing the right thing.  We have to set an example for our future athletes because kids are starting to train MMA as early as age four now!”

On Sept. 24, Harris will look to continue setting an example for future MMA fighters as he starts his ascension toward the Dream middleweight championship.

Top Photo: Gerald Harris (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

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