Competing in mixed martial arts and doing standup comedy are two things that go together a lot like mechanical engineering and journalism—as long as the person doing them is happy, it doesn’t matter what others think.

Welterweight Gerald Harris knows this firsthand (as does yours truly). Harris’ combination of fighting and telling jokes may seem more like oil and water than salt and pepper, but as he prepares for the inaugural World Series of Fighting event on Nov. 3, the 32-year-old is just doing what feels right.

“Making people laugh just comes naturally,” he proclaimed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I just step on stage and put on shows. You can’t do that with fighting. I actually got on the comedy stage at Planet Hollywood and did about 10 to 12 minutes. My shows have been packed with a couple hundred people at each show.”

Harris (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

Ironically, Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas is exactly where Harris will have to put his comedy career on hold to work his other trade as he takes on fellow UFC veteran Josh Burkman.

“He’s a veteran. When you fight a guy like Josh, there’s not much you can do to surprise him,” explained Harris. “You just have to go out there and be smart. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen with a veteran.

“When you’re fighting new guys that are like 7-0, they are sort of set in their ways, but this guy’s been through it all; hard fights, easy fights.”

The fight will be Harris’ second at 170 pounds, after competing at middleweight for the first 24 fights of his career. Despite just one bout in his new weight class, the Oklahoma native is comfortable in his new division.

“I felt good in my last fight, especially since I took that fight on six days’ notice,” recalled Harris. “I had done a test cut about a month before. It was a little awkward to compete that quickly in a new weight class, but that’s definitely where I’m at from now on. I’m too small for middleweight, these guys are getting bigger every year.”

Harris’ realization that his future was not at middleweight came during his brief time under the Dream banner in Japan. However, the promotion’s untimely collapse threw a wrench in the career path of Harris earlier in the year.

“I had a three-fight deal with them,” said Harris. “We had spoken about fighting for a title and then they shut the whole organization down. I actually planned my move to 170 while I was there. I had fought two former 205-pounders, two former heavyweights, and I realized that middleweight was no longer my weight class. I would’ve stuck with Dream, they paid me well and treated the fighters great. Unfortunately, they went under and I became a free agent.”

Free agency didn’t last long for Harris, as he quickly moved on to the Texas-based Legacy Fighting Championship and earned two straight wins to push his winning streak to four. Surprisingly for Harris—who has finished 15 of his 21 victories—every fight on his current streak has gone to the scorecards.

“It’s not an excuse, but I broke my hand in the first round in two of those fights,” he revealed. “I don’t know what it is; it’s kind of hard to explain. It just happens.

“You can be considered a knockout artist, but once you start knocking people out, people start watching more video and paying more attention. I think [in the past] I was surprising people with my power and technique, but now there’s a ton of video where people can see my setups and strategy.

“Hopefully the knockouts will come back. I’m not predicting it, but I’m always capable of knocking somebody out. If they think I’ve lost power, they can come test it out and find out the hard way.”

Harris (R) delivers a right hand (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

Now, as a member of the WSOF roster, Harris is hopeful that the upstart promotion will be home to his first knockout since July of 2010. That is, if it can sustain its product.

“It’s all about the ratings,” he said. “Good fights don’t necessarily get people to tune in because there’s so many fights now. It has a lot to do with marketing. There are small organizations that put on some great fights, they just don’t get the attention. Your fighters have to be marketable. WSOF is doing the right thing, getting guys like Anthony Johnson.”

Even though Harris feels the promotion is doing the right things, the “Hurricane” finds himself in a familiar position: frantically searching his cable guide for the promotion’s broadcast channel.

“I can’t be fighting on a channel that I don’t have,” he declared with a laugh. “I met the owner of HDNet (now AXS TV) and he laughed his ass off when I told him that. I don’t even know if I have NBC Sports. I think I do, but I have to check.”

Regardless of whether Harris can go back and watch his own fight, he has a message for all of his supporters this weekend… and there’s no joke involved.

“Make sure you tune in on Nov. 3,” he said confidence. “It’s going to be a show.”

Expect the veteran performer to be a man of his word.

Top Photo: Gerald “Hurricane” Harris (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

  • Cam

    I’ll be interested to see how he looks at his first real fight at 170, since he took the first one on short notice. He’s such a powerful dude, he could do some damage at welterweight