NEWS
02/10/2012 02:30 EST | Updated 04/11/2012 05:12 EDT

Edmonton's Luke Harris balances fighting career, clothing line and gym

Hayabusa is more than just a name for Edmonton middleweight Luke Harris' gym and clothing line.

Literally it is Japanese for peregrine falcon, a predator that hunts from above and can drop into a steep dive that tops 320 km/h.

Harris notes the falcon's "perfect fusion of speed, power and strength" and "extraordinary ability to strike with fierce precision and intensity."

"The Hayabusa falcon symbolizes the ideal meshing of what fighters strive to achieve in their relentless pursuit of combat supremacy. So at its very essence, Hayabusa embodies the true spirit of a fighter."

Fighting words. And the inspiration behind the Hayabusa Training Centre and Hayabusa Fightwear.

There's a personal link too in that Harris' father raised peregrine falcons when he was a kid.

Harris (6-1 with one no contest) will be carrying the Hayabusa flag Saturday night when he takes on Elliot Duff (3-2) at Aggression MMA 9.

Edmonton welterweight Ryan (The Real Deal) Ford (16-4) takes on Halifax's Ricky Goodall (9-4) in the main event at Edmonton's Shaw Conference Centre. Goodall was a late injury replacement for Tyson (The Man of) Steele.

MMA followers will be no strangers to Harris' Hayabusa Fightwear logo. The company sponsors a long list of fighters, including UFC heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem.

"The guys, they work hard," he said of his co-owners.

They started the clothing line in 2007, with Harris opening the gym not long after. The training centre is now home to current and future UFC fighters in Mitch Clarke, Ryan Jimmo and Nick Penner.

"Guys have started to migrate to our gym from across Canada," Harris said. "We're becoming one of the most well-known gyms in the country. Things are going awesome."

The gym caters to everyone from the pros to four-year-olds starting out in judo. And when he's not training or overseeing his businesses, Harris teaches some eight classes a week.

The 34-year-old Harris came to MMA from a judo background, competing for the Canadian national team.

He studied landscape architecture, getting an undergraduate degree at Guelph and his master's at Penn State (where he continued to compete in judo). He worked in urban design for a while before putting things on hold to return to sport.

"MMA and fighting and martial arts are my true passion," he said.

Landscape architecture — designing urban/outdoor spaces — and fighting can complement each other, it appears.

"Landscape architecture, I guess, is a mesh between art and science," he said. "All the same skills that I learned in school, everything I bring to fighting, and I bring to I guess all my endeavours whether it's business or otherwise."

Martial arts have taken Harris around the world. He studied judo in Japan — where he came across the name hayabusa — and went to Brazil to pursue jiu-jitsu after studying in Montreal six or seven years ago under Brazilian Top Team Canada instructor Fabio Holanda.

His first day in Montreal trying out Brazilian jiu-jitsu saw him roll with Georges St-Pierre, who today holds the UFC welterweight title.

"I had no idea who he really was," said Harris, a black belt in judo who now has a brown belt in jiu-jitsu.

Patrick (The Predator) Cote was also there and the two have become friends.

Harris has been to Brazil to train three times now, with one stint lasting seven months in Rio de Janeiro.

"I'd go hang out at the beach, train two to three times a day. The rest of the time I was pretty much resting," he said.

"The learning curve was steep, but it was awesome. I was just thrown right in there."

Harris won the Canadian King of the Cage title in his fourth pro fight but was sidelined by knee surgery after an injury in training in 2009.

The injury nixed an opportunity to appear on Season 11 of "The Ultimate Fighter." With a seven-fight unbeaten streak, Harris is no doubt still on the UFC's radar.

"I'm in no rush," he said. "I make sure that I take the time, improve between all my fights and just don't rush into it."

Harris last fought in June when a bout against John Troyer was halted due to a problem with the cage floor at AMMA 7.

Troyer and Harris essentially both stepped into the same hole one after the another, and the referee stopped the bout.

"It sucks when you prepare hard for a fight and have to go through something like that," said Harris.

It was ruled a no contest after three minutes 14 seconds, continuing Harris' streak of never having gone past the opening round.

Making his pro debut in August 2007, Harris has spent a grand total of 13:50 in the cage over his eight fights.

"I don't get paid by the hour, right?" he said with a chuckle.