Andre Harrison enjoys the comforts of home.
The undefeated featherweight and one of the faces of the Professional Fighters League franchise will meet Nazareno Malegarie in the PFL 4 co-main event on Thursday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Harrison trains out of the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy, roughly five miles from the venue, and plans to stay unbeaten with a mix of cool confidence and energy from his supporters.
Now 18-0, Harrison has emerged as one of the leading stars for the rebranded PFL -- a fact not lost on the Long Island, New York, native, who admits to a feeling of accountability.
“I definitely feel like I have more of a responsibility to put on good performances for the fans and everybody that holds me in high regard,” Harrison told Sherdog.com. “At the end of the day, it’s a job. I just happen to want to be the best at my job.”
The Professional Fighters League appears to have a clear grasp on Harrison’s value, as it continues to showcase him close to home. While it remains a welcome perk, it also has its disadvantages. Faux supporters looking for a free ride to the event have long aggravated Harrison. The first seven fights of his career took place in the New Jersey-based Ring of Combat organization. At the time, fighters could make extra money selling tickets themselves. It was then that Harrison learned to recognize true supporters from their bogus counterparts.
“You would tell people to come [and they would say], ‘Yeah, I’m coming. Hold five tickets for me,’” he said, “and then the week of the fight, they would say, ‘I can’t make it. I forgot about [the fight].’”
It left Harrison with extra tickets and lighter pockets. He remains bitter about the situation.
“That used to bother me a lot,” said Harrison, who has since streamlined the process. “I will get tickets for my mom, [and] I’ll get tickets for my lady. That’s it.”
Harrison expects his legitimate supporters to assemble for his showdown with Malegarie, a Bellator MMA veteran on a six-fight winning streak. Their presence will allow him to operate from a position of strength.
“When you are in those kind of venues [close to home], you feel the energy,” Harrison said. “I just want to take all that energy from everybody and go out there and have possibly my best performance yet.”
Harrison last competed at PFL 1 on June 7, when he took a unanimous decision from Ultimate Fighting Championship alum Jumabieke Tuerxhun. Looking back on the encounter, he noticed a number of missed opportunities.
“I was in a couple of positions where I could have or should have finished the choke,” Harrison said. “I was a little bothered by that.” His frustrations are born out of preference: “For me, getting the finish is more of a personal thing than [getting] points.”
Points, however, are the name of the game in the Professional Fighters League. The more you score, the higher your playoff seed. A favorite to win the million-dollar grand prize at featherweight, Harrison is unconcerned with the pecking order, as long as he advances to the eight-man tournament.
“Man, I don’t care where I’m at,” he said. “I could care less if I’m the eight seed [or] the one seed. I don’t think there’s another featherweight out there that’s better than me. If you feel like that, what difference does it make [where you are seeded]?”
Harrison will have had 43 days in between bouts when he climbs into the cage to face Malegarie. He prefers the quick turnaround, especially when considering his win over Tuerxun was far from physically taxing.
“If you didn’t take any damage [and] you’re already in good shape, to get right back in there would be the smartest option,” Harrison said.
Malegarie has the 30-year-old’s undivided attention. He defeated former Bellator champion Marcos Galvao in June and sports a gaudy 29-4 record that includes victories over Issei Tamura and Hiroyuki Takaya.
“He’s definitely a tough dude if you look at his background,” Harrison said, “[and] he’s fought some tough guys and he did well.”
Harrison stopped short of making boastful proclamations about how their fight will play out. He has confidence in his well-rounded skills and hopes to put forth an entertaining effort.
“When I perform,” Harrison said, “I want to make sure people want to watch me.”