Clay Harvison UFC “TUF” Cast Member – Trials to Triumph


When Clay Harvison stood triumphant this past Saturday, winning his fight against Justin Edwards in “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 finale, it was a culmination of a long journey, one in which Harvison had to dig deep to overcome a series of difficult trials.

Harvison “fell into” the sport of MMA six years ago.  At the time, he was studying Muai Thai kick boxing as well as dabbling in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  His mentor, Steve Headden thought he should try his hand at mixed martial arts.  Always one to test himself, he took the challenge.  He began more intense training in kickboxing with Steve Headden as well as Mateo Cutbill.

He would also train with Manu Ito, Todd Duffee, Cale Yarbourogh, Dhiego Liman, and Diego Suriva as well as at the folks at Hard Core gym.  It was during this period of intense training and fight preparation that a series of tragedies would take place in Harvison’s life.

In 2007, his younger brother Kyle died from an overdose on Oxycontin at the age of 23.  In 2008, his friend Walker Atrice collapsed, then died of a cardiac arrest after a Golden Gloves fight.  In July 2010,  his father Dennis, a former Top Gun pilot and Colonel in the Marines would be misdiagnosed, eventually leading to his death of a staph infection in July of 2010.  Later, his good friend Rueben Lopez committed suicide by hanging just a few days after their last meeting, and then earlier this year, another friend and MMA fighter, Sherri Thompson passed away of cardiac dysrythmia.  With the exception of his father, each of these people was less than thirty.   Harvison would say each of the deaths put him in a rut.  All of them together put him into a big mental hole.

Fortunately, in November of 2010, his friend Tyler White sent him an e-mail saying he ought to try out for the upcoming “The  Ultimate Fighter” Season 13.  He was hesitant about doing so, but decided to go for it.   To his elation, he made it and found a great focus to keep his mind off of his trials and finding a purpose that not only lead to his own progression, but would be a tribute to his family and friends that passed away.  On Saturday June 5, 2011, the victory over Edwards that tribute was fulfilled and another chapter in Harvison’s life would begin.

With all of the things that have happened, Harvison has come to a couple of conclusions that are words of wisdom for anyone.  First,  live life to the fullest, you just never know when your time is going to be up.  Second, care about the things you are pursuing.  While being coached by Brock Lesnar, Lesnar would say, “you don’t care” to Harvison.  He would respond, firmly, and resolutely, “yes I do”.  Harvison mentioned that when you know your purpose, it doesn’t matter what people say or think about you, you have something to keep moving toward.  Finally, Harvison says, don’t make excuses.  He simply says own up to it, learn, and move on, and move on he has!

Clay is sponsored by: Dom Prospect; Hard Core Gym in Athens, Georgia; Roam “Jucao” Carniero; The Academy with Jason Mertlich

Clay dedicated this article to the memory of Kyle Harvison, Dennis Harvison, Rueben Lopez, Walker Atrice, and Sherry Thompson.