JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – UFC president Dana White has never projected a sentimental personality.
However, at the UFC on ESPN 8 post-fight press conference, White alluded to heavyweight fighter Walt Harris’ main event participation as being somewhat of a moral victory.
After dominating the first few minutes of the fight, Harris (13-8 MMA, 6-7 UFC) was defeated by Alistair Overeem (45-18 MMA, 10-7 UFC) by TKO in Round 2. The fight was the first for Harris since the kidding and death of his stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard this past October.
“I said to you guys a few days ago,” White told MMA Junkie. “Win, lose, or draw, being here is a win for him. He got through tonight and you have to understand. Who knows what was going through that guy’s body, head, the whole deal? He got (Overeem) in trouble. I think when he watches the tape, he’ll realize he overreacted a lot and should’ve slowed down and picked his shots.
“… This is a learning experience in a lot of ways for Walt. It was his first fight back. He’ll get better from this in every way you can be better from fighting to the other things that are going on with him.”
On the ESPN post-fight show immediately following the event, White was spotted chatting with Harris backstage after the loss. The UFC president said Harris is taking the loss as he would expect.
“(He’s) exactly how you would expect him to feel right now,” White said. “I think it’ll probably take him an hour to sit down, calm down, and process what happened. When he goes back and watches the tape of the fight, he’ll know all the mistakes that he made.”
UFC on ESPN 8 took place Saturday at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. The card aired on ESPN and streamed on ESPN+. The card marked the third and final in an eight-day stretch for the promotion in Jacksonville.