FIGHTING-FIT Phil Harris is ready and raring to show his worth inside the Octagon.
Having been out of action for four months due to a fractured orbital bone (eye socket), the Portsmouth-based UFC fighter has been given a second chance to showcase his ability against Brazilian John Lineker.
The original flyweight bout was scheduled to take place in Rio but 30-year-old ‘Billy’ Harris now has the opportunity to fight in front of a partisan British home crowd at the Phones 4u Arena, Manchester, next Saturday.
And even with his long, enforced lay-off, Harris is confident that an intense training camp has boosted his chances of victory.
He said: ‘Due to the injury, I’ve almost had four months to train for this fight, which has left me in the best possible shape.
‘It’s been the same game plan as before. It’s a mirror image as we’ve almost done the same thing twice.
‘In a way it’s good as I’ve had two training camps for the same fighter.
‘It’s great to have a home crowd, as the original fight was meant to be in Rio – so it definitely plays in my favour.
‘Any fight is a big deal but fighting in the UK has its advantages.
‘You get the home crowd and you don’t have to travel as much.
‘He (Lineker) is going to have jet lag, and little things, like the necessary food, could prove in my favour.
‘Even if things don’t appear to be an advantage, everything helps. One per cent can make the difference.’
Despite Harris’ impressive record (22-10-0, with one no contest) – this will be the first time he has fought on a live main-card UFC event.
With the night’s action set to be shown on BT Sport and on a tape delay to millions of viewers, Harris has been given a chance to show the world what he can do.
England rugby star James Haskell knows only too well the power jujistu expert Harris possesses – having been treated to a masterclass in BT Sport’s brand new show – UFC: Beyond The Octagon.
The Wasps rugby ace visited Harris and his family – wife Debbie and young daughter Billie – as cameras captured the skill, dedication and excitement from behind the scenes of one of the fastest-growing sports.
Harris was only too happy to give a glimpse of his favourite submission – the arm bar – which he will hope can put a dent in Lineker’s (22-6-0) career record.
Having not fought since a unanimous victory against Ulysses Gomez in London in February, a win in Manchester against ‘hands of stone’ Lineker will help push Harris into the flyweight title picture.
And the Gym 01 Fratton fighter is hopeful – if he impresses on home turf again – bigger fights will come.
He added: ‘John’s only lost one of his last 18 fights so if I can beat him this will definitely push me up the rankings into the top 10 in the flyweight division.
‘It’s nice to have that feeling of deserving to be on the main card.
‘I don’t see it as added pressure – I see it as I’ve earned that spot.
‘You have to take each fight as it comes, keep winning and keep impressing the people at the top.
‘It’s up to the UFC if I get a chance at the title.
‘It could be three fights away, it could be five, or it could be more.’