Phil Harris is celebrating after landing a Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contract.
And the Portsmouth fighter, nicknamed Billy, will make his debut against American Darren Uyenoyama on the FX 5 card in Minneapolis on October 5 – live on ESPN.
The 29-year-old flyweight is currently riding high on a five-bout winning streak, which has taken his overall record to 21-9 and seen him crowned the best in Europe.
And it’s a run of form which has see the Copnor-based talent catch the eye of UFC officials – catching Harris himself by surprise.
The former Priory School pupil, who now works for BAE, said: ‘It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Everyone’s response has been amazing.
‘I have had hundreds of people congratulating me.’
And now the 5ft 4in fighter has vowed to go the ‘extra mile’ to make the most of his new deal.
He said: ‘I will stick to the same game plan but will do more to go the extra mile. I train every night and some mornings, fitting it around my work and home life. But this couldn’t have happened without my great coach Brian Adams, and Graham Boylan and Ian Dean of Intensiti Fighter Management.’
Harris, who trains at Gym01 in Rodney Road, is grateful for the support of wife Debbie and his 10-week-old daughter Billie.
‘Debbie couldn’t be happier about the UFC contract,’ he said.
‘She always supports me and attends whenever I fight in the UK.
‘But she can get worried during my fights!’
Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White is delighted by his new recruit.
He said: ‘I’m pumped to have Phil ‘Billy’ Harris sign up with the UFC.
‘He’s made a big name for himself in Europe as a submission specialist, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the Octagon.
‘Our flyweight division is still quite new, so it’s great to see it expanding with all these talented guys.’
– PAUL JACOBS