The Reincarnation of Judo in MMA With Luke Harris
Middleweight contender puts skills at test against Joseph ‘Leonidas’ Henle at MFC 34
Until very recently, judo never seemed to get its rightful place alongside other martial arts and tactics such as wrestling, striking, Muay Thai, and of course jiu-jitsu.
But many stars in mixed martial arts are demonstrating how valuable a weapon judo can be. One of them proponents is Luke Harris, who will certainly see his skill set put to the test at MFC 34: Total Recall when he faces Joseph “Leonidas” Henle in a featured middleweight matchup.
“Wrestling is certainly a cornerstone of MMA, but judo is kind of meld between wrestling and jiu-jitsu,” explained Harris, a black belt in judo who also boasts a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
“Judo is a style that can work very well against wrestlers. And now we’re seeing more judokas competing in MMA at a higher level – people like the Nick and Nate Diaz and Ronda Rousey. But you still have to work on every aspect. No one skill is going to be enough.
“Right now, judo is a little bit of an unknown and it can be very effective so you’re going to see more and more of it.”
Harris (9-1) and Henle (7-0) will lock horns at MFC 34 taking place on Friday, August 10 at the Mayfield Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. The HDNet (soon to be rebranded AXS TV) Fights card will air live beginning at 10 p.m. ET/8 p.m. MT/7 p.m. PT (check local listings for channel designation).
Modification is a key word in Harris’s fight vocabulary. It not only describes what must be done with his judo talents when it comes to mixed martial arts combat, it’s always the perfect way to describe his overall approach to game planning for each new opponent. There’s no one specific area that the Edmonton, Alberta, fighter is focused on when it comes to strategy for battling Henle. It’s more a matter of refining and adapting.
“I’m always modifying certain things,” explained Harris. “I dedicate a percentage of training on each area like striking, strength and conditioning, jiu-jitsu, and then just modify that percentage to whomever I’m fighting.
“For Henle, I’ll probably take the percentage of wrestling up a bit but I’m not going to discount the ground work either. He’s got a submission win over Constantinos Philippou so I can’t negate the jiu-jitsu, and I have to still keep working on wrestling and stand up.”
Harris utilized his judo to near-perfection in last bout, making short work of veteran Edwin Dewees at MFC 33. After taking a Dewees right hand to the face, Harris locked up his opponent and then ferociously put him on his back with a throw akin to an old-school wrestling hip-toss. From there, Harris put his submission skills to work and quickly forced a tapout via a guillotine choke.
“You definitely learn about yourself with each win … you just believer in yourself more and it adds more confidence,” noted Harris. “That fight went as planned, not that I wanted it to go that fast but just the way it went. I had hoped to take him into deeper waters and drown him, but the opportunity was there and I took it.”
That win was Harris’s ninth straight – all coming via first-round submission. In those victories, Harris has averaged an in-ring time of 2:01.
While making quick work of his foes has become a routine thing for Harris, he isn’t expecting such an easy task ahead of him in Henle. And while the victory over Dewees did win over some of his critics, Harris hasn’t paid much mind to the negative comments. A win against Henle, however, would go a long way to muzzling the naysayers even more.
“Honestly, I’m never too concerned about what people say. I take it the same way Mark Pavelich takes it when people talk about him. If you’re in a successful spot, you’re going to earn a lot of critics.
“I kind of look at it like watching ‘TMZ.’ If you’re going to be a celebrity or the face of an organization or a front-runner, people are going to talk about you and some it is going to be negative.
“I do this because I love it. I love to train every day. I don’t care what those people say. I care only about the people around me and that’s it.”
Tickets for MFC 34: Total Recall are on sale now and are available exclusively through the MFC Ticket Hotline at (780) 504-2024.