For lightweight Justin Harrington, the battles he fought outside the cage in 2017 were just as difficult as any he has faced so far within it.
“I feel it was kind of a rough year for me, personally,” Harrington told MMAWeekly.com. “I was dealing with a lot of stuff. I just couldn’t mentally gear myself up for fighting.
“My last three fights were kind of intense. Even though two were short, they were still pretty brutal, I took some damage and I was just trying to heal up. I had a couple deaths in the family. It was just really tough for me. I really have no excuses other than I just mentally wasn’t really there.”
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Harrington admits the difficulty he experienced in his personal life played out in his sole fight last year, a unanimous decision win over Bryan Nuro at SFL 49 in May.
“I felt good, but I felt like I gave him too much respect,” said Harrington. “I hurt him a couple times throughout the fight and just didn’t finish. I just mentally wasn’t in the fight game. I kind of fought scared. I’m just glad I was able to come out with a win.”
Harrington (8-2) will look to kick off a hopefully better year in 2017 on Saturday in Tacoma, Wash., when he’ll take on one time training partner Julian Erosa (17-4) in a 155-pound championship main event at CageSport 44.
“It’s kind of weird, because he helped me get ready for Nero, so we know each other,” Harrington said of Erosa. “He’s a monster. He’s fought tons of title fights, so going 25 minutes to him isn’t going to be anything.
“He’s proven time and again that he’s up for the challenge of fighting anybody, and he usually prevails. I’ve got to go in there and unleash hell on him. I have to be smart when I do it, but I’ve just got to make him uncomfortable. I have to disrupt everything he does.”
To ensure he’s in the best possible position to defeat Erosa, and future competition, Harrington has moved his training camp to New Mexico to work with Team Jackson-Winklejohn.
“I have to do what’s best for me, so I moved camps down here to New Mexico,” said Harrington. “I’ve been getting pushed to the absolute limit here training with world class athletes. That’s what I feel like I have to do to get ready for (Erosa).”
Getting a win over a UFC vet like Erosa could be just the final step Harrington needs to make a move up to the next level, though he’s not banking everything he has on it.
“I understand that the UFC is definitely the end goal, but as long as I keep winning and keep fighting to the best of my ability, that’s all I can ask for,” Harrington said. “If I make it, great; if I don’t, I still have a life to live and that’s what I’m going to do.
“I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles the past seven months and I’m happy to still be here, still be champion and doing what I love to do every day.”
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