Mixed martial arts has grown rapidly in popularity in the United States, and fighters come from a variety of disciplines. One fighter was undefeated until last year, and now he’s looking for payback.
Andre Harrison of Valley Stream, New York first became interested in the martial arts when he began wrestling in the seventh grade.
He continued to wrestle through college, and developed an interest in mixed martial arts during his junior year. In November 2012, Harrison turned pro at age 22.
After wrestling, Harrison took an interest in kickboxing. Nevertheless, it’s his wrestling background that helped him transition into mixed martial arts to contend with the physical and psychological challenges of the sport.
“I think the mindset that you have to have in order to make it through a wrestling season is a tough mindset. You’ve got a lot of bumps, a lot of bruises, and injuries that you have to deal with. It’s tough,” Harrison told The Epoch Times.
Mixed martial arts has become nearly as popular as traditional boxing. A poll conducted by the Washington Post and the University of Massachusetts Lowell found that 25 percent of Americans said they were mixed martial arts fans compared with 28 percent saying they were boxing fans.
In a fight, generally three judges score three- or five-round fights. Fighters can win either by unanimous decision by the judges, a split decision by the judges, by knockout, submission, or if the attending physician or referee stops the fight.
Harrison trains two to three times a day to prepare for his fights. He practices striking by training in boxing or kickboxing, and he also works on grappling techniques by practicing wrestling and jiu jitsu.
Depending on the day, he’ll also supplement his training with cardiovascular exercise and strength training.
Harrison also adheres to a healthy diet in order to make weight. He’s in the Featherweight division, which means he must be at or under 145 pounds by fight night.
He doesn’t stick to an excessively strict diet, but he does eat clean. Most importantly, the healthier he eats, the more fuel he has to compete.
“You are what you eat, so if you eat bad food, so to speak, then you’re not going to perform as good as you would if you were to eat good food,” Harrison explained.
However, after a big win Harrison does find himself with a hankering for certain foods like pizza.
Harrison also keeps himself mentally prepared by sticking to his routine and training.
“It comes through your training. If you do everything that you’re supposed to while you’re training, then you can go into your fight knowing that you’re fully prepared,” Harrison explained.
As a result of his talent and work ethic, Harrison was 20-0 for the majority of his career. His undefeated record was a huge accomplishment, especially considering the level of talent and professionalism in the league. He also always takes one fight at a time.
“You can’t really look past anybody,” Harrison said.
However, last year he lost to another fighter named Lance Palmer by split decision in the semi-finals of the Professional Fighters League championships.
There is no transitive property in mixed martial arts. Harrison had previously defeated Palmer by unanimous decision, but that fight had no bearing on their second encounter. While losing was disappointing, Palmer took the loss in stride.
“You got to learn from it, like you would learn from anything,” Harrison explained.
Harrison will fight next on May 23, 2019 at Nassau Colosseum against Freddy Assuncao of Brazil. While it’s not in his power, Harrison is looking for a rematch with Palmer.
“I’d be very, very happy to fight Palmer again,” Harrison said.