Not all undefeated MMA records are recognized equally.
Darren Till is considered to be on the verge of breakthrough stardom after pushing his record to 17-0-1 with a UFC Liverpool victory over Stephen Thompson on Sunday.
Andre Harrison? He’s been blazing a path of his own. The Long Island native, who was the final World Series of Fighting featherweight champion, boasts a 17-0 record, but hasn’t gotten nearly Till’s level of attention.
But that’s been slowly changing, and with Harrison now one of the marquee names of the new Professional Fighters League, he believes his recognition level will only continue to grow.
“I feel like I’m starting to,” Harrison said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour about his growing level of respect. “Like at first, a lot of people, they’ll say I beat notable people and stuff like that, but for some reason, it wouldn’t get the same aura as another person, I think Darren Till is 17-0-1 now. Like him, he’s like a superstar now. But now I feel like I’m getting there, especially with PFL backing me the way that they’re doing.”
Harrison says that whether or not he gets recognized properly on overall MMA featherweight rankings, those who have been paying attention understand what he’s accomplished.
“In my mind, anyone that knows me in the sense that, anyone that’s trained with me or fought me or whatever the case may be that’s been there throughout the course of my career, they know that I am one of the best featherweights on the planet,” Harrison said. “That’s just hands down. There’s no way you can tell me if you turn up the rankings that there’s gonna be 20 other guys that can beat me. There’s no way you can tell me that. In my mind, I’m the best featherweight on the planet hands down. I don’t care which fight league you’re talking about, I am the best featherweight, period. Every time I go out there I show that.”
Indeed, Harrison’s resume includes his WSOF title victory Lance Palmer, wins over current or former UFC competitors in Steven Siler, Desmond Green, and Kurt Holobaugh, TUF competitors Cody Bollinger and Jeff Lentz, and current Bellator fighter Alexandre Bezerra.
And he’s now about to get a push commensurate with his achievements, as Harrison will headline the PFL’s season-opening show at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 8 against Jumabieke Tuerxun, which is a pretty big deal for the Long Island native.
“I was up late one night and I was scrolling and somebody screenshotted the order of the fights and they tagged me on Twitter and was like ‘Dre is headlining the Theater at MSG’ and I was like ‘I does look like I’m headlining MSG’ and I’m like “well alright,’ cool. It was like a surreal moment because I fought at MSG before, I fought Bruce Boyington on New Year’s Eve a little while back. So I fought and I was like yo, it’s the first time I’ve had a bucket list moment. Fighting at MSG, this is like a big, big thing for me. So when I found out now I’m headlining it’s like surreal. Stuff that people are talking about really didn’t sink in to me yet.”
When Harrison fights Tuerxun, it will be the first step in the PFL’s new season-long divisional format, one which rendered his old WSOF belt a thing of the past.
And while the elimination of the title bugged him at first, it didn’t take Harrison long to wrap his brain around his new task: Not too many fighters get to be the last champion of one promotion and then the first in a new one.
“At first I was like ‘man, I just got it,’ but then I looked at it a different way,” Harrison said. “I was like, you know what, I’m going to be the last featherweight to ever hold the World Series of Fighting belt last one holding belt, ever. So for me I just took it like that and I’m like, alright, now for the next one, I know PFL is having this league, and it sounds like there’s a bunch of good stuff that they’re looking to do. I’m excited to go out and chase another one.”