UFC heavyweight Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris spoke with Bloody Elbow ahead of his UFC Singapore scrap with Cyril Asker to discuss slapping a grown man, meeting Kobe Bryant, and the culinary skills of UFC 145’er Charles Rosa.
Following an extraordinary TKO victory over Chase Sherman at UFC Fight Night 103, American Top Team heavyweight Walt Harris is headed off to Singapore to face Cyril Asker at UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Correia on June 17, 2017. Before flying off to Malaysia, Harris caught up with Bloody Elbow to discuss slapping Sherman before the finish, the positive takeaways from the UFC retreat, and the sporting event that caused “The Big Ticket”to cry.
Dropping a split decision to Shamil Abdurakhimov at UFC Fight Night 96:
“Honestly, I thought I won the fight. I think I could have pushed a little harder in the third round. I had just changed my conditioning coach, so I honestly didn’t know what I had in the gas tank. After the fight, I was thinking to myself, ‘man, I should have just put my foot on the pedal a little bit more.’ I knew he was dangerous; I knew he was a tough guy, so I didn’t want to blow my load early. I thought I still won the fight; I thought I did enough to win the fight. It didn’t go my way, but that’s why you don’t leave it to the judges.”
Finishing Chase Sherman at UFC Fight Night 103 with a 6-piece Mortal Kombat like combo:
“It’s in my tool shed. I got a lot of tools, I just haven’t had a chance to display them. I saw the opportunity. I’ve been working with my coaches on just using my athleticism to my advantage, and trying to be different than most heavyweights. I got a chance to display and I ran with it.”
Part of that finishing combo involved a pimp smack. Did you realize that you slapped a man?
“It’s crazy, man. I watched it back; everyone was Tweeting the video to me, so I was like, ‘let me see what they’re talking about.’ I saw that. I was like, ‘dang, I did pimp smack him a little bit, haha you know. I think in my mind, I wanted to Thai clinch him again, and just finish him off with knees, but I hit him and his head went over so I just threw the left hand. It almost acted like a hook.”
After you melted Sherman, you instantly started screaming at Daniel Cormier. What did you say to the UFC light heavyweight champion?
“I talked to D.C. after the Shamil [Abdurakhimov] fight; he expects a lot out of me. I look up to D.C. He’s somebody who I’ve watched his career unfold. I asked him after the Shamil fight, I don’t know if you remember, but I knelt down in front of him and said, ‘what do you think?’ He gave me this look like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t think you did enough.’ So, I told him after that fight, ‘I promise the next time I get in there, I won’t leave anything to the judges. I won’t let anybody have any reason to not give me the win.’ That’s what I did. So, I went over to him and I told him, ‘I told you D.C. I told you!’ He thought I was mad at him at first, but I was like, ‘Nah, it wasn’t disrespect. I look up to you, and I just wanted to prove that I’m capable of what you see in me.’”
The positive takeaways from the UFC Athlete Retreat:
“Haha yeah, I was in the building. It was one of the best weekends of my life. Just for the simple fact of being around all of the fighters. I got to meet a childhood idol of mine, Kobe Bryant. That was like the highlight of my weekend. Not to mention, the UFC went above and beyond. It was unbelievable. They laid it out for us. The speakers were amazing. I learned so much about how to brand myself outside of the sport, and how to take advantage of my platform. I learned a lot of things psychologically; how to be a better fighter, how to be stronger, how to develop my mental game. It was just a great overall weekend. I got to hang out with my boys, and just enjoyed Vegas. I got to see Snoop Dogg; it was just cool.”
What was it like meeting 18-time NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant?
“I was honestly nervous standing up there talking to him. In college, I wore a leg band on my leg. I wore a wristband on my forearm. I did everything he did. I wore his shoes. Growing up, Kobe was it for us. I watched him from the day he came into the draft, to the time he retired. I saw his last game. I literally idolized him. For him to be there, and take time out of his schedule to talk to some fighters and teach us and give us pointers. It was amazing, man; I’ll never forget it.”
Did you cry when Kobe put up 60 in the final game of his 20-year Laker career?
“I did, man. I’m not even going to lie, I did. I remember we were out, we were going somewhere else, but I told everybody, I said, ‘look, Kobe’s playing his last game. We got to stop at a restaurant and watch the game. I didn’t expect him [Kobe] to do what he did, but when he did that, it just made it that much more sweeter for me. I was just, I was kind of like, I got a little watery eyed, man.”
Heading out to Singapore for UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Hunt
“I’m excited. I’m really excited to get over there and put on a show for the fans. I know they love fighting over there; it’s like tradition. I want to go over there and do that country proud, and do America proud, as well. Go over there and put on a good show, and come away with a big victory, and keep this hot streak going that I’m on. I’m looking to chase gold in 2017; if not gold, get in the conversation for 2018. I’ve been training hard, and I’m ready to go over there and show off what I’ve been working on.”
Your UFC Singapore opponent, Cyril Asker, was last seen scoring an instant takedown, moving to full mount, and pounding out Dmitry Smoliakov in a swift 2:41. Do you think he will be able to put you on your back?
“I don’t believe he will. I don’t think he’s faced the caliber of athlete I am. I don’t think he’s faced a striker like me. I don’t think he gets to train with that type of guy. I think me being left handed poses a big danger to him, too. If you saw his fight with Jared Cannonier, he’s left handed. He struggles with leftys. I’m looking to go in and implement my gameplan, be strong. I’m not really worried about a takedown. If he takes me down, I’ll get up. I train that. Everybody I fight tries to take me down at some point in the fight. I think Chase [Sherman] was the only guy I fought that willing to trade and bang with me. So, at the end of the day, it’s nothing that I haven’t seen, so I’ll be prepared in every way.”
“Oh, he ain’t making it out of the first, bro. He’s not making it out of the first round. That’s a fact. It’s going to end violent, and it’s going to end with me getting my hand raised.”
How good of a chef is UFC featherweight Charles Rosa?
“Wooooooo! Man. Bro. I’m just going to put it to you like this; when you come to south Florida, give me a call and we gon’ feed you. This dude can take anything and make it into a gourmet meal. He chefs at a 5-star restaurant in Del Ray, top notch. All of the movie stars, celebrities go there. He’s one of the head chefs, and this kid is special in the kitchen. He’s really, really dope. I’m blessed to have him as a best friend, because I don’t have to pay anybody to feed me during camp. I just ask him and he’ll hook it up.”
Check out American Top Team’s Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris wage war with Cyril Asker, at UFC Fight Night 111 on June 17, 2017. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!