Dylan Harnish (1-0 kickboxing) put on a boxing clinic in his debut kickboxing fight against Tomas Santiago who was fresh of winning an amateur Muay Thai title. Harnish, 18 years old, won on all the scorecards (29-28, 29-27, 29-27) and showed composure of a fighter who has much more experience. USKA named Harnish the “Outstanding Debut Fighter” of the USKA Reloaded 12/8/18 event.
What sports and martial arts background do you have?
When I was younger I played basketball, baseball, and football. I started off at a local gym with Jiu-Jitsu at maybe 10 years old was on and off with that. But when I was 15 I found Bloom MMA and fell in love with the place, the people and the atmosphere. I’ve competed in 2 jiu jitsu tournaments. Last Saturday was my first fight of any kind MMA, boxing or kickboxing.
Why did you and your team agree to fight a guy coming off a national Muay Thai tournament win?
We agreed to take on a fighter coming off of national Muay Thai tournament simply because we knew no matter who it was we were going to be prepared to win. I was in NYC for UFC 230 when I got the news and contacted my one trainer (Eric) and it was good to go. I was confident about whoever I was facing just as I always will be. I know my team and myself will always be prepared to the best of our ability. I figured everybody sitting there other than people there for me assumed I was going to lose to a national champ coming from the highly respected Rami Elite gym but we knew that wasn’t the case and I think his confidence went away after the first round when he wasn’t able to walk through me. I think my pressure, cardio, and speed were a lot better than he expected.
How did you feel walking out to the ring?
Walking out to the ring the hardest part was having a dry mouth; I just kept wanting more water. The fights kept going by quickly when I was in the back. I just wanted to get in there and do what I had to do. The nerves went away right as the bell rang. I felt very comfortable and the biggest problem was just the unknown of how I’d respond to my first fight. But now I won’t have to worry about it.
Your boxing looked sharp throughout the fight, with you landing a lot of Southpaw crosses. Did you expect your boxing to be your advantage during the fight?
To be completely honest, I expected my kicks to be my biggest advantage. We worked my spinning back kick for the month leading up to the fight. I also thought I was going to be able to beat up his lead leg with my left kick but I threw it once and was still too close and he landed a straight so I knew I had to turn it into a boxing fight. I believed no matter what kind of fight it turned into I was content with how it was going to play out.
What was your thoughts as far as dealing with his significant height? Did that change your approach?
When I found out the significant height advantage it’s all I thought about. I think I would even over think it too much. I have two training partners over 6” – Dan Harris and Eric Strausser. They both kicked my butt leading up to the fight so I was aware of what I had to do with the height advantage. At the weigh ins you can notice the height advantage but inside the ring I just felt like he was standing still and my movement was a big advantage with getting in and out.
What was it like between rounds for you? How was it listening to your corners and making changes?
In between rounds the constant thing was pressure and keep him on his back foot. After the first round his energy wasn’t there and all I heard during the fight was stay on him coming from Joel. I knew my cardio wasn’t going anywhere and that was a big advantage. Coming out for the 3rd round the thing that stuck in my head the most was Eric saying “ you don’t get tired” everybody knows that “ go show them you don’t” I walked out into the 3rd and knew it was going to be a big round and really believed I was going to get the finish.
What were your learning points and takeaways from this fight that you will take into your training and your next fight?
I think the biggest thing from this fight that I can take into the next fight is not to overthink it. Plus, stepping into a fight is no longer an unknown for me so I think any bit of anxiousness will go away completely the more I compete.
What does being named the outstanding debut fighter of the night mean to you?
Being named the outstanding debut fighter of the night shows you how amazed everybody was that I won. Like I said earlier I don’t believe anybody expected it except for my team and family and friends I had a good bit of people there and people at home watching the stream. I knew I had to show my skills I told everybody I was going to win I didn’t want to let anybody down. Being named the outstanding debut fighter truly is an honor; I appreciate the recognition I think everybody was surprised and I think now people will be excited to watch me fight again