While it might be tempting to compare Walt Harris’ fight with old training partner Aleksei Oleinik to his prior fight with Fabricio Werdum, don’t make that mistake, the heavyweight warns.
San Antonio, TX — Walt Harris has squared off with an opponent boasting a scary submission game before. This weekend, it’s Aleksei Oleinik, a 42-year old veteran fighting since the 90s. Last time, it was Fabricio Werdum, back at UFC 216, but as Harris pointed out at Thursday’s UFC San Antonio media day, you shouldn’t make the mistake of comparing the two.
For those that do, “I would say to those people, I fought Fabricio Werdum on 45 minutes notice, like a beast,” quipped Harris. Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press, he added that “I also would say I was not prepared for that fight, but I’ve been preparing for Aleksei for the better part of two or three years, if you really want to be honest.”
There’s a couple of reasons for that. One, the two have been training partners in the past. Two, they were booked before, at UFC Ottawa in May, until Oleinik was pulled to face Alistair Overeem in St. Petersburg. “We were in camp for literally fifteen weeks, that’s how I look at it. Because I fought Sergei [Spivak, in Ottawa], it changed four weeks out, so technically, we just kept training for Aleksei. So I think they’re going to be more than pleasantly surprised if it does get into that situation. But we ain’t going to let it go there.”
Speaking of the pair being training partners, how far has Walt Harris come since those days? Pretty darn far, he told reporters on Thursday. Light years, in fact. “Light years, bro. I made a comment yesterday to somebody. The guy that I was when I was training with Aleksei, I would smoke that dude today. It’s not even close. I would embarrass that guy. And I was what I consider to be pretty good back then.”
And so, at the end of the day, he hopes his old training partner is ready for what’s coming.
For more from Walt Harris watch the full UFC San Antonio media day press scrum above!