Walt Harris Watched Future Opponent Alistair Overeem in PRIDE Before He Ever Put on the Gloves

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At UFC on ESPN 7, Walt Harris throws down with Alistair Overeem — a man he watched in PRIDE before ever pursuing MMA.

Boston, MA — While the MMA world was busy taking in UFC Boston, heavyweight Walt Harris was in Beantown to discuss his trip to the nation’s capital. When Mr. Harris goes to Washington in December, he’ll be facing arguably the toughest test of his career: Alistair Overeem. The pairing are the main event of UFC on ESPN 7.

Speaking to reporters including Cageside Press backstage at the TD Garden, Harris said that he was ready for the main event challenge. “I felt like I’ve been preparing myself for this. I changed gyms. I switched a lot of things in my personal life for that reason.”

Harris has known about the Overeem match-up for a while now, although it was some time before the news broke. “I found out literally like a week or two after I fought Aleksei [Oleinik], they wanted me to fight Overeem. It wasn’t even a ‘wait, let me think,’ it was ‘yes!'”

That was back in July. Harris has been waiting for his big moment ever since. “Fighting Overeem is an opportunity that I’ve always wanted,” said Harris Friday. “I watched this guy fight before I ever put a pair of gloves on. To be able to step in the octagon and compete against somebody who is widely considered a legend, is a great moment for me. And I think it’s my time, so I’m going to go in there and take him out.”

Harris, who is on his second stint in the UFC, first came across ‘The Reem’ by watching the legendary Japanese promotion PRIDE. And what attracted Harris to his future opponent was “just the way he fought. At the time, I didn’t know a lot about striking, but I enjoyed watching him strike. I watched him fight in different weight classes, fight all the best guys in PRIDE. That’s what I knew at the time was PRIDE, I was like ‘damn, I want to fight in PRIDE.’ I was watching it, I had it on DVD and all those things.”

“It’s kind of surreal honestly to be in this situation to be fighting him,” Harris admitted, “but at the same time, I’ve got a job to do. I’ve been preparing for this moment for a long, long time.”

With over 60 fights, you could say Overeem has seen it all. But Walt Harris was firm when saying that he brings something new to the table. “You have never seen a guy that fought him like I’m going to fight him December 7. Or a guy that presents the challenges that I’m going to present to him. I respect Overeem, I have the utmost respect for him, but every dog’s got his day and I feel like it’s my time, it’s my turn to step into that spotlight and be what I’m supposed to be. I’m ready for success.”

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