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UFC 216 interview: Walt Harris talks training with boxing champ Deontay Wilder

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UFC 216 heavyweight Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris spoke with Bloody Elbow to discuss sparring with boxing champ Deontay Wilder, his opponent Mark Godbeer, and his desire to break into the Top-15.

With back-to-back knockout victories under his belt, UFC heavyweight Walt Harris is in search of his third consecutive win, as he faces off with the 12-3 Mark Godbeer at UFC 216 on October 7, 2017. Before getting busy this Saturday night, “The Big Ticket” caught up with Bloody Elbow to discuss the effectiveness of his combination striking, training with WBC champ Deontay Wilder, and unveils his plan to fight once more before the end of 2017.

Saturday’s UFC 216 main card will air live on Pay-Per-View at 10:00 P.M. ET with the prelims starting at 8:00 P.M. ET on FS1. The Exclusive Fight Pass prelims will begin at 6:30 P.M. ET.

“I went back to the drawing board. I felt like there were some things that I didn’t do well, even in 1:44. I’m a big critic of myself, so I got hit with a big punch that I definitely shouldn’t have gotten hit with. We went back to the drawing board, worked on that, and just focused on cleaning up my technique and cleaning up my defense. I felt like it was good performance.”

  • Ultimately, you right hooked Asker into your southpaw cross, which dropped the big man, and before that, you finished Chase Sherman with gnarly 6-piece Mortal Kombat like combo at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Penn. Your combos seem to be the truth; what gives?

“I work them a lot, and I train with smaller guys, so I have to be cleaner, I have to be more precise, and I have to be faster. So, I think that’s what helps a lot, just years of working that combination. That 2-3/3-2, it’s been my bread and butter for a long time, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  • Your UFC 216 opponent, Mark “The Hand Of” Godbeer, tends to want to keep it standing with his opposition, so will you stick with the striking attack that has been working for you, or will you take this opportunity to work the other areas of MMA?

“I don’t want to give away too many secrets, but if it goes there, then we’re prepared. Like I’ve always said, I’ve got skills that I don’t think people have gotten to see. I think October 7th will be a great night to show the rest of the division what I’m capable of. I’ve got slick submission skills; I’ve got great top control, so giving a little taste of that to the rest of the division will be good for me moving forward. So, you might see a lil double leg, a lil single leg. You never know.”

  • Is there anything in particular that you feel that you need to watch out for when fighting Godbeer?

“Nah, not really, man. Nothing he does stood out to me to make me go, ‘okay.’ Typical guy. He’s got 2 legs and 2 hands haha. It is what it is, man. It’s a fight, so I’m prepared for everything. I never underestimate my opponents. I prepare and train hard like it’s Godzilla I’m fighting.”

  • How is preparation going for UFC 216; are you at home again for this one or back at American Top Team?

“I did camp here again, at home. Just that individual attention, and attention to detail, is what I needed, especially at this point in my career. I feel like just being at home is what’s best for me, and of course Top Team is still in the fold. I went down, actually, to Top Team for the weekend, got some sparring in, talked to my coaches, so that relationship is still there, of course. That’s my family, but right now, being at home is what I needed to do, so that’s what we did.”

  • You’ve been spotted on social media training with undefeated WBC heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder. What’s it like getting in some work with “The Bronze Bomber?”

“That’s my guy. Shout out to D. Shout out to coach Jay down at Skyy Boxing, and all the guys down there. D actually has a big fight coming up in November, and anytime he has a lefty, he gives me a call. I go down there and give him some work and get some pointers. I feel like when I spar him and then I go fight an MMA fight afterwards, my confidence is just through the roof, man. That dude is a world class boxer with punching power; he’d probably knock a horse out. If I can go in there and get some rounds in and hold my own, I feel like in the UFC, it’s nothing.”

  • Exactly how hard does Wilder hit?

“Man. Wooo. The hardest I’ve ever been hit, easily. Easily, the hardest puncher ever. It’s just the way he punches, his leverage, his technical ability, and then he’s 6’8” so he’s punching down. Not to mention, he’s fast and athletic. It’s not like he’s punching, just brawling; he’s setting it up. He’s using different skills and techniques to get to what he wants, and I feel like that ups my game. It makes me more aware of what I’m doing and what I need to get better at, and gives me an extra boost of confidence when I step in the cage.”

  • The last time we spoke, you called your first round finish of Cyril Asker. What is your official prediction for your fight with Mark Godbeer?

“I speak it into fruition, man. I’m a big believer in positive affirmation and using your words as power, and I predict a first round for this one. I predict an exciting finish again. I feel like I put so much work into being a different type of heavyweight, and being an exciting type of heavyweight. That’s my mindset. I look to finish fights. I don’t look to eek out wins. I don’t go in there to try and play it safe; I go in there to try and finish guys, and finish them in dramatic fashion. He’s tailor made for that, so that’s what we’re going in there to do.”

  • What is next for “The Big Ticket?”

“After this fight, I’m looking to get a Top-10/Top-15 guy. I want to try and, God willing, get out of there with no injuries, and get right back in there in December. I set a goal to fight 4 times this year, and I’m almost at that goal. I believe I can accomplish that by going in there and putting him away quick, turning around in December, and jumping right back into the fold.”

Watch Walt Harris throw down with Mark Godbeer at UFC 216 on October 7, 2017. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!