The uproar didn't change the UFC's mind. Harris was gone, and wouldn't return. Nobody from the company has spoken at length on the record about the situation. We were told the company wasn't happy with the fight, and it was a financial decision -- those that would speak out thought it was a warning shot from the UFC. They were making an example of Harris.
"After I got cut from the UFC, I struggled," Harris said, mentioning that he broke his hand several times. Harris continued on. His profession was fighting, but he wanted more out of life, and his career.
Harris' MMA success continued in Legacy Fighting, in Japan for DREAM, as well as Tachi Palace Fights. In 2012, the upstart World Series of Fighting came calling. Harris would drop his first fight against Josh Burkman, but was a part of a blossoming Welterweight division that included Jake Shields, Jon Fitch, Rousimar Palhares and other big names. After a one-sided victory over Jorge Santiago, the WSOF said they had 'big fights' planned for Harris. Those fights never came. Even though Harris said he got along well with the WSOF brass, their priorities didn't match up.
"What was best for them wasn't what was best for me. I signed to fight Jon Fitch and Rousimar Palhares, and both fights were taken away and given to somebody else. I was upset and I retired. I literally signed contracts, training for the fight and got that phone call saying 'Palhares can't take the fight, we have to give him a title fight.' They gave me a little money to get by, but I was tired of being put on the back burner. I know I'm not an A-list fighter name wise, but I felt like I had earned my spot, I wanted to get that big name fight," Harris said. "It left a bad taste in my mouth after what happened with the UFC."
Harris retired from MMA, but it wasn't a sob story. In the years since he gave up slamming opponents through the cage, Harris has taken a completely different path -- making people laugh as a stand-up comedian. He showed off some of that wit and humor when asked about former foe Dave Branch.
Branch, who Harris had his most famous MMA moment against, had went on to great success. Branch, like Harris, signed with WSOF, and became a champion in the light heavyweight and middleweight ranks. Harris joked that even though he made headlines by knocking out Branch, he doesn't want to give Branch a re-match.
"Hell nah! He'd kick my ass now. I'm done. That was six years ago, he was a much different fighter. It's like the Stephan Bonnar/Forrest Griffin type of thing -- don't do a part two. Then he might slam my ass through the mat and we'd have to have a third one," Harris laughed. "I like to leave my legacy where it was."
Harris doesn't really exploit his MMA past or career in his stand-up material. However, he says that comedy is something that comes naturally to him.
"I've been a comedian all my life, class clown since elementary school. I have a bold sense of humor. It's taken me so many years to master my craft. I talk about my life, it's not really punchlines, it's the truth. I'm finally, at age 36, getting that hard laughter. My career's taking off and I love it, and I'm still a high school teacher," Harris said.
It doesn't end there. Harris is also a part-time color commentator and analyst for multiple regional promotions, owns his own training facility, and hosts comedy events. A lot of people say they stay busy after MMA, Harris actually does it.
"I've been getting booked back-to-back-to-back. Even in high school I was a multi-tasker, I had school from 8-3, before school I would work out, we'd have wrestling practice, I would go straight to work from 4-11. I've always been a multi-tasker," Harris told Fightful. "It was in my blood. My mom worked three jobs, my dad was always working."
Harris went the traditional MMA fighter route, post-career, too. He opened a gym, it didn't work out. Fortunately for him, the persistence led to Harris opening a new training facility in June, and quickly gained over 100 members. Even though he has a slammed schedule and is doing well, he briefly entertained the idea of an MMA return on Facebook around the time The Hurricane Training Center opened. Some thought it was a publicity stunt, others thought Harris genuinely missed the cage.
"Financially, I'm doing good," Harris explained. "But I come from a fighting salary where I make more money in one night than I do all year teaching or getting paid once a month doing shows here and there. It was a financially motivated move, I was like 'I'll go to the UFC, knock a few guys out, make some money,' and I was talked out of it by a friend. If I do a fight, you always have another fight in you. If you win you say 'I can still do this.' If you lose, you say 'I gotta win one more."
Harris said that a friend reminded him that he broke his hand in his last fight in WSOF, and that being around and healthy for his children ultimately outweighed the potential money involved in an MMA return. For now, Harris will stick to splitting sides instead of breaking faces, teaching boxing instead of utilizing it in the cage, and educating instead of fighting.
"I'm of the belief that if something bad happens, something good happens. If I hadn't been cut by the UFC, I don't think my comedy career is where it is now. I love comedy more than I love fighting. Me getting cut from the UFC pushed me back to the microphone. I love what I do." said Harris.
It's easy to say that Gerald Harris got a raw deal in MMA– because he did. But for all of the valleys Gerald Harris experienced, he's found even more peaks. You won't catch people crying for Harris, you'll catch them laughing along with him.
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