Playoffs bring a new edge to sports. The intensity elevates, and the gravitas magnifies. The PFL playoffs give mixed martial arts fans the opportunity to feel the elevated stakes of a post-season. With the inaugural regular season for PFL closing, undefeated Andre Harrison looks to continue his dominance throughout the formatted tournament.
Reminiscent Wrestling Days
The former high school and college wrestler thinks fondly of the tournament format. It brings his thoughts back to the days of wearing the singlet. Harrison was a Division II All-American for Fort Hays State University, as well as a Junior College All-American at Nassau Community College.
“It’s reminiscent of the wrestling tournaments I used to have in high school and college. You wake up, you weigh in, and then you compete several times throughout the day until somebody is crowned champion. It feels like that to me. The only difference is I still get to weigh in the day before which I am happy and grateful for,” Harrison told MMASucka. “I enjoy fighting man, I fought several five round fights throughout my career. At the end of the day, this is a five round fight. The only difference is I get a break in between rounds two and three.”
For Harrison, he is the favorite in the featherweight bracket. Previous to the change in format, the New Yorker earned the final World Series of Fighting title. Before the inaugural season of PFL began, Harrison defended his featherweight title at PFL: Everett. Yet, once the season did begin, Harrison was stripped of his title. While it did not bother him much, it gave him confidence everything the season would bring.
“I was like, well, I am the champ now so must mean that million dollar check got my name on it… [and] at least I’m not going to have any five round fights for a little while. I understand, it’s a new league they have no ties to WSOF and so even though, [its] pretty much the same players it’s a completely new league. There aren’t any champions right now. We all about to fight to see who will be the champion of the organization. I’m a gamer, I didn’t look at it some type of way like ‘Ah, I can’t believe they just took my title.’ I look at it differently, I say, well, I was the last person to hold a WSOF title and that’s a little piece of history right there.”
New and Old Preparation
His preparation hasn’t altered entirely, in terms of the opponent. Of course, the change in fight structure altered his training patterns. But, the approach to the opening round opponent does not change drastically.
“If you know you got somebody who’s predominantly a wrestler, you’re going to gauge yourself based off of countering the takedown, stopping the takedown and things like that. At the end of the day if you’re building up your approach to the fight based off of what somebody else is doing, then you are already at a loss because you are fighting them at their game. If somebody has been doing something for x amount of years, then obviously they’re going to be good at it. So you can’t just expect to catch up in a matter of a month or two. It’s just not going to happen. You got to make somebody fight your fight. I focus on what I’m doing and go out there and try to get the job done.”
Harrison faces Alexandre Bezerra in what represents #3 v. #6 in the brackets opening round. This meeting is not the pairs first. The fighters met two years ago under the Titan FC banner. Andre Harrison was the Titan FC featherweight champion at the time. The New York wrestler earned the title defense by scoring a unanimous decision and a dominant performance. In this second fight, Harrison aims to prove he is the better fighter.
“He’s definitely a tough dude. The challenge I got for myself; to prove the first time we fought wasn’t a fluke. That I am actually a better fighter than him. I look to have a more dominant performance this go around then I did the first time before. That’s where my mind is at, that’s what I am focusing on right now.”