On Friday afternoon, though, Harris had no chance of finding himself on TV for weigh-ins, even though he spent fight week dieting, cutting weight and preparing to fight like the 20 other men who marched up and down the scale before cameras.
The reason? After his fight fell though, Harris was a UFC 118 alternate. And after the four other scheduled middleweights passed their medical tests and made weight -- in front of the TV cameras, while Harris was stuck backstage -- Harris became a fighter without a fight.
"I roll 'til the wheels fall off, so I was hoping until the last minute," Harris told MMA Fighting on Friday, a short time after making weight. "I was on Twitter like, 'Someone's not going to make weight! Come on, someone's going to be four or five pounds over!' It's an unfortunate situation but I'm going to make to the best of it. Hopefully I'll be back in September or October, whatever [UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva says."
Harris' bizarre journey to the weekend began in late July, when he stepped in for the injured Jorge Rivera to face Alessio Sakara. It was a matchup Harris relished. Sakara is a UFC veteran with a reputation, presenting a golden opportunity at more exposure, as the fight was a virtual lock to make the Spike TV broadcast before the pay-per-view.
A knee injury eventually knocked Sakara off the card. He was then to be replaced by Joe Vedepo, but that match also fell through about two weeks before the event was to happen.
Instead of just scratching Harris from the card, however, the UFC brought him to Beantown as an alternate, giving him a chance to at least make his fight purse.
"It was great because I didn't expect for that to happen," he said. "I thought Joe would say, 'Sorry, just come out and have a good time.' But they talked about rewarding me for it. I had a full training camp, eight weeks. So this is a big blessing."
The gesture was not lost on Harris, who just over a year ago, at least briefly contemplated quitting MMA. He'd been living with his mother and fighting on the regional circuit, trying to impress the right people to get back into the UFC (he'd previously competed on season 7 of The Ultimate Fighter). At the time, he'd been scheduled to face Travis Lutter on a regional show, but a Lutter injury caused the fight to be scrapped.
"At the time, I was doing really bad, financially especially, to the point where I was thinking maybe I shouldn't do this anymore," he said. "When Lutter got inured, it was heart-breaking. I said, 'What am I going to do?'"
Harris, who has two sons -- Christopher and Gerald, who he calls "Little Hurricane" -- began wondering if MMA was going to take him where he needed to go.
"I'm not a quitter, but I have a family to feed," the 30-year-old said. "At the time, fighting was making it, but you're fighting for two or three grand. That covers your rent for two months, but then you have food and other things. I was fighting to survive. I got so tired of fighting. I'm in a position now where I can just fight. I don't have to worry about, 'I have to win, because if I don't win, I can't pay rent.' That's how it was. It didn't make me any more hungry. It was actually harder to fight."
The UFC call came soon after for Harris, who's made the most of his second opportunity, going 3-0 so far in the octagon (he's 17-2 overall), and earning consideration as a middleweight to watch.
Despite the whirlwind run of success to go with his newfound notoriety, Harris can't help but feel a bit bummed at the missed opportunity at fighting on a major card. But he doesn't fault the UFC's other middleweights for not offering to face him, and he doesn't begrudge UFC 118's participants their moment of glory, because at his core, he's still an MMA fan.
"Is it going to be difficult to watch the fights? It was difficult to watch the weigh-ins," he said. "I didn't come here to watch fights, I came here to fight. But I'll take that back a little bit. My trainer will sometimes ask me when my fight is, and I'll tell him I'm second on the card, and he'll say, 'Hell yeah, we could watch the rest of the fights!' And it's exciting. It's just that when you train for seven or eight weeks, you dream every night about your opponent, about getting your hand raised. You go through so much. It's like going through football training camp and not making the team. But at least in this situation I'm still on the team. I'm not going to be disappointed and down. I'm going to be back in the gym on Monday."
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