July 10, 2015 11:27 am

Andre “The Bull” Harrison: Mindset of a Champion



If you’re the type of MMA fan that follows blue-chip prospects in the sport, then you already know about Andre “The Bull” Harrison. Sporting an undefeated professional record of 9-0, which followed an undefeated amateur career, this featherweight is poised to make waves in the big leagues in short order. If you’re a casual fan or somehow missed the news, consider this your introduction. “The Bull” spoke to NewYorkFighting.com in anticipation of his upcoming 145lb title fight on July 18th in Kansas City, Missouri, under the Titan Fighting Championship banner.

This fight is another step on a long journey for Harrison, who started wrestling in seventh grade at Freeport High School in Long Island, NY, and continued his wrestling career at Nassau Community College and Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Like many wrestling converts, his interest in MMA was sparked by a teammate who was already fighting.
One of my teammates at Fort Hays, his name was J.T. Hudson, and he actually held the [amateur] No Mercy 145lb title, and he didn’t have anybody that he could work out with. So I said, ‘I’ll throw on the gloves with you after some of our practices.’ And when it was straight boxing, it was relatively even. He was still getting the better of me, but it wasn’t like dominant, like not to the point where it wasn’t enjoyable for me. But when we incorporated kicks, that was a different ball game, man, I didn’t realize how much it hurt.” The challenge of the mixed styles motivated Harrison to learn these unfamiliar techniques. “I was getting kicked and I thought it might be a good idea to throw a kick of my own back at him, and he checked it and he stepped in and hit me with a hard overhand left, because he was a southpaw. And I was like, man, I gotta learn this. So I kept working out until I was at the point where I was able to get J.T. back, and by that time I was already scheduled for my first amateur fight.”

The Bull’s first experience training with professionals came with his friend and Bellator veteran L.C. Davis, who still has a gym in Kansas City. Nowadays Harrison spends most of his time training at Bellmore Kickboxing under the tutelage of Keith Trimble, and can also be seen at Scarola BJJ and the Budokan Martial Arts. “I pretty much live at Bellmore Kickboxing,” he says. “You can catch me there every single day. You can catch me at Scarola’s Jiu Jitsu often. I’m a gym rat. Even if I didn’t have a fight coming up I’d still be at the gym. I get home and I’m like a child, I don’t know what to do.”

Harrison spends an equal amount of time working on all disciplines to build on his wrestling base. “It’s mixed martial arts, especially nowadays with this ‘new era’ that’s coming out, everybody is great at everything. You’re gonna have guys who are just naturally more gifted at one phase of the game… but you cannot just focus all your attention on one spot. It’s not gonna work that way, you’re not gonna go far.” This fight is no different, as he is a big believer in sticking with the team that has brought only success.

In an interesting parallel to the upcoming UFC 189 event on July 11, Harrison talked about why he does not like to change up his training partners too much. “For me to go out now and try to seek out new people, and all that other stuff, that’s kind of similar to Conor McGregor and [UFC featherweight champion Jose] Aldo. You know, Aldo brought in new people and ended up with a rib injury. I’d rather just stick with my same team. I’m not against Conor McGregor, and I’m also not really a heavy Conor McGregor fan, but I have great respect for what he says in that light: if your team got you to where you are, then what are you changing it for? It might end up biting you in the butt. Whereas I know that my team has been successful for me so far.
Harrison will take on UFC and Strikeforce veteran Kurt Holobaugh in a bout to be streamed live on the UFC Fight Pass network. The spotlight does not faze the former Ring of Combat champion, but he hopes that the right people will be watching. “My last two fights were on CBS Sports. I do believe that a lot of people, like UFC officials are watching a lot of other venues period, but I know they get Fight Pass for free, so I know they’ll be more inclined to tune in. You have access at any given time so if you so much as have a bad dream and wake up in the middle of the night, you can click on UFC Fight Pass and catch up on what you missed, whereas on CBS Sports you have to catch it at that certain time or catch the replay at a specific time, otherwise you don’t see it.” The UFC has recently started streaming fights from other “feeder” promotions on its premium Fight Pass subscription service, including Invicta FC, Titan Fighting Chamionships, and Shooto Brazil.


Titan FC

Titan FC

In preparation for this fight, Harrison describes the training atmosphere as “intense.” However, he has not changed his thus-far successful training methods for this opponent. In his words, “I just think about my fight, my opponent. Everything is always new for me. Every opponent is different, they all have different strengths and different weaknesses. So my goal is to go out there and exploit their weaknesses and get the W.” Maintaining his undefeated record does not add any pressure either. “I’m not thinking that I have to keep this win-loss record, I mean I’m not going in there to lose but I’m not going in there to protect my record.” And on a less intense note, Harisson said that after “getting the W” he looks forward to getting his hands on “the biggest, greasy gigantic burger,” which is somewhat ironic for a man nicknamed “The Bull.” “It has to be ridiculously large, like where people look at it like ‘Is that person gonna eat all that?’

A win over a known fighter like Holobaugh could earn Harrison a call-up to the UFC or Bellator. He expressed mixed feelings when asked if he has a preference between the two. “Obviously the UFC is the top promotion out there. To be the UFC world champion means that you are the best on the planet. That’s the way it is. A lot of people may disagree, but for the most part, even if you know nothing about fighting, you know that the UFC has the better fighters. So I think as a competitor, period, you should want to be the best at what you do. I mean why work so hard?”

On the other hand, many UFC fighters have been complaining about the UFC‘s new Reebok deal as limiting fighters’ options for sponsorship and financial support. For its part, Bellator has secured the backing of media giant Viacom and brought on ex-Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker, leading the promotion to offer better deals and exposure than were previously available for Bellator fighters. Harrison did not mention these factors, but seemed willing to consider fighitng in Bellator as well. “At this point in time, Bellator is going real real well as well, they have a lot of top athletes as well. I myself personally tune in on Friday nights as a fan and watch it, and I wouldn’t have a problem going to them either.
Harrison, however, has the demeanor of a fighter who is grounded and has his eyes clearly focused on the fight that is in front of him. Fans can tune in to UFC Fight Pass on July 18th to watch “The Bull” get his horns on the battle-tested Holobaugh. Look for Harrison to implement a wrestling-heavy offense with heavy strikes, while Holobaugh looks for submissions in the transition, in what figures to be a pivotal fight in both fighters’ respective careers.



Andre Harisson would like to thank all of his sponsors, and Bellmore Kickboxing, as well as Scarola BJJ and Budokan Martial Arts. He would like to especially thank Keith Trimble, Joe Scarola, and his training partners including Gregor Gillespie, Randy Brown, Dennis Bermudez, and many more.




Written by contributing-editor, Kyle Antonelli

Video by  Matt Culley & Sofia Laurelli

Edit by Sophia Laurelli




Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply