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Monday, 01/20/2014, 01:54 pm

Walt Harris Says Basketball is the Next Base for MMA


“I think in the next 10 years you’ll see more basketball players migrate over to MMA,” said Walt Harris (pictured, left), heavyweight knockout artist and UFC fighter.  Harris will face Nikita Krylov this Saturday at UFC on FOX 10.

By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA

The Ultimate Fighting Championship began as a competition to determine which style of martial arts was the best when pit against the rest; and over the years it has become a stage for some of the best athletes in the world who are well-versed in several disciplines.  But through it all, fighters are partial to their basic martial art.  For Randy Couture it was wrestling, for Lyoto Machida it’s karate, for Anderson Silva it’s Muay Thai.

And for Walt Harris (5-2), a new UFC heavyweight fighter, it’s basketball.

And though Harris has just seven professional bouts to his name, the former Division I basketball player from Jacksonville State University has all of his five wins by first-round knockouts.  And he credits his success with stand-up to the skills he picked up on the court.

Hand-eye coordination and footwork,” he told UFC.com.  “Basketball is a lot about angles and positioning your body and having your feet in the right position.  A lot of the footwork drills and conditioning we do in MMA we did in basketball: explosive drills, box jump.  It’s the same type of athleticism to fight.  Basketball players are lean, long and explosive.  I think it translates perfectly.  Basketball is a lot of up and down, stop and start, quick explosive movements from side to side.  A lot of the boxers I knew who came from basketball did very well.   I think more basketball players should cross over.  I think in the next 10 years you’ll see more basketball players migrate over to MMA.

Harris has applied his athleticism to boxing and wrestling, skills he carries with him into the cage this weekend when he faces Nikita “Al Capone” Krylov at UFC on FOX 10 in Chicago, Il.  Harris and Krylov will open up the night of fights at 4:30pm/1:30pm ETPT in a preliminary bout that airs live on UFC Fight Pass.

Like so many MMA fights, Harris and Krylov will be a clash of fighting styles: Krylov with his Kyokushin Karate and Harris his basketball.

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