The main event at Summit Fighting Championship 31 will feature Kaleb Harris taking on James Wallace for the promotion’s professional lightweight title. This fight won’t feature trash talk or any bad blood between the two, but if you ask Kaleb Harris, this is a fight he’s always wanted, and beating James Wallace is more important to him than winning the title.
In an interview with MyMMANews, Harris spoke about why this fight against Wallace is more important to him than the title, why he’s always wanted the fight, and what drives him to become the fighter he is. Undefeated at 3-0 as a professional, Harris says his lifelong dedication to the mixed martial arts has gotten him to where he is today.
“At 18, I started fighting and until Jesse [James Wallace] I was usually the guy with more amateur fights compared to my opponent. Now, I’m going in to this fight, 3-0 as a pro, it’s a big fight for me, and it’s a fight I’ve always wanted. No one outside my team knew this was the fight I wanted, but they would tell me to be patient and stop chasing it. My coaches would tell me that the fight is going to happen so I just gave it to the good Lord above, and I saw he was fighting for the lightweight title and I said I wanted the fight and now it’s happening.”
Describing himself as a fighter by heart, Kaleb Harris pays all respect to his opponent James Wallace and sees him as the biggest challenge he could face at this point of his career.
“I’m a fighter by heart, I know everyone out there would say of course I am but I look for the challenge. I have had many people tell me to pad my record then go fight the hard fights but I don’t want to be that guy. James has been on a tear for a while and we’ve been on the same card multiple times and he brings it, so that’s the guy I want. I got nothing but respect for James. Most fighters want to talk about how they’ve got a beef with someone or something, me and James are cool but we both just want to fight the toughest guys out there. We are two of the Top 10 ranked guys in the state of Mississippi and SFC knew this would be the fight to put on a big show.”
With his future plans in mind, Harris looks at taking on opponents like James Wallace as a way to solidify where he plans to be in the future stages of a career, when he becomes a champion in a bigger promotion.
“It’s a big move for me to fight guys like James, I just want to fight the best. I want to know on the final days when I stand up in the UFC or in Bellator with a belt around my waist, I want to know that I got there because I beat the best. I don’t want to be there cause I side-stepped the big fights.”
Challenging himself as he’s come up through his fighting career wasn’t always easy for Harris. He had to take a step back and figure out that his mindset of avoiding trash talk, respecting his opponents, and taking the biggest fights possible is what he wanted to do to be the best possible version of himself.
“Growing up, I had a lot of self-doubt thinking I wasn’t good enough or that my fighting wasn’t good enough. It’s the same thing with fear as it is with doubt, you have to face it. If I doubted I wasn’t good enough to fight somebody, I’d go fight him. I never wanted anyone be able to say that I took easy fights. The only time I fought guys with average records or losing records is that no one else would take a fight with me at the time so the matchmaker would have to get someone with two weeks notice. I just want to prove myself, that’s more or less the end game of it. I don’t want to just make money off of fighting, that’s a bonus, the belts are just a bonus, I just want to know that I’m the best.”
As the fight against James Wallace gets closer, Kaleb Harris puts all of his attention and all of his respect into his opponent because when Harris takes that next step in his career, he wants to be credited for taking opponents like Wallace. Getting the SFC belt would be nice and enjoyable, but the win over top-tier opponents, especially another top-ranked fighter in the state of Mississippi, is what matters most to him.
“To me, the belt is just icing on the cake. I would’ve fought him whether it was for the belt or not, I would’ve fought him for a chance at the belt if that’s what it would’ve took. To me, to be able to go back and look at my record and have a chance to say he beat a guy who is 8-2 and that guy is James Wallace, that means everything.”
With the focus on Wallace, Harris hopes that a win at SFC 31 can lead to new opportunities in 2019, which could include going up north of Mississippi so he can grab even more attention.
“My goal in 2019 is to just fight as many fights as I can and fight smart. Hopefully doing that, I’ll open the eyes of the right people and then open up a few new doors. I’m thinking I’d like to go up north and fight for another promotion just for the simple fact that there’s no real eyes down here with the UFC or Bellator. I’m hoping to get on Island Fights so I can be on UFC Fight Pass, or somewhere there so I can start getting people to notice me.”
Being the best fighter he can possible be by challenge himself with the toughest opponents drives Kaleb Harris inside the cage, but he doesn’t just fight for glory, money, or belts, he fights for a battle that many people fight. After going through rough personal times, Harris fights for those who battle with depression because he knows that he can help others by showing he’ll never quit himself.
“I think about those people who live with depression every day and I think about how strong they have to be to get up every day. I use fighting to kind of get the word out that just because you’re going through life and it hits hard, doesn’t mean you can’t stand back up and keep moving forward and keep trying to make every day better. Things can get bad, things can always get worse, but they can also get better as long as you choose to get up off the ground.”
Using his professional fighting career to challenge himself to be the best he can become while also using it to help be an inspiration for others, Kaleb Harris finds himself ready for his biggest challenge. That challenge will be James Wallace at Summit FC 31 on March 9, 2019 and his only message to the biggest challenge of his career at this point, is he’s ready to put on a show, because he knows they’re both going to bring it.