Our #2 ranked prospect on our 2011 World MMA Welterweight Scouting Report doesn't quite fit the mold of our past picks, and it'll probably thrill a few readers that this prospect trains out of Firas Zahabi's camp in Canada while hailing from the Dominican Republic. With ferocious takedowns and brutalizing strength, Alex Garcia (6-0) has the skills and support to make a run for the UFC toward the end of 2011.
Offensive Skills: Garcia's greatest asset is his explosiveness in tandem with his immense strength. For a welterweight, Garcia is absolutely enormous in terms of size and strength, and that has been his main means of crushing the opposition in quick fashion. In six appearances, he's finished all comers and only fought to extra rounds once in his little over one year career as a professional. While the competition is far from spectacular, he is progressing up the ladder nicely while rounding out his skills.
Ground and pound is his primary offensive strategy, but he's honing his boxing skills and continuing to threaten opponents with submissions on the ground. While I do think that the tough weight cut down to 170 could be a problem for him in the future in the context of his conditioning, it's tough not to like a guy who comes out with the ferocity of a lion.
Defensive Skills: It's tough to gauge where Garcia stacks up in this category. There isn't a large amount of footage out there that suggests he's a dynamo on the feet when it comes to avoiding strikes, but a lot of the training footage I've watched suggests that Garcia is an improving, fleet-footed striker who could potentially make his opponents miss frequently. I'm not going to make that assumption however, and most of the footage I have seen from his bouts under the Ringside MMA banner have been one-sided stompings against very green opponents.
Progression: Garcia is still relatively green when it comes to his career progression, but his management has done a nice job in lining him up with fights that fit where he's at in his career right now. He's moved up from fighting mostly losing neophyte fighters to battling veteran competition, although most would say that those veterans aren't high quality as their win/loss differential is rather small. But with only six fights to his name, battling veterans like Tyler Jackson and Ricky Goodall is a safe step up the ladder as he prepares for some tougher competition down the road, possibly IFL veteran Chris Clements.
If he can take down the proven power of Clements, Mark Pavelich is his next option in continuing his climb up the ladder while staying local in Canada. It doesn't seem like a bad move, but I would rather see Garcia make his way to some of the regional American promotions that can attract a Brazilian flavor or some powerful wrestlers who can test Garcia's strength and endurance.
Environment: Garcia is currently training out of Firas Zahabi's camp, the famed gym of current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. The intrigue is that Garcia sits in the same weight class as St. Pierre, and that should provide him with one of the best possible training partners in his weight class in the world. Additionally, Garcia can train under the tutelage of Zahabi, a man who can improve his conditioning and endurance to world champion levels.
Potential: Our attraction to Garcia mostly stemmed from the physical gifts he possesses in combination with the ferocity of his offense. We've stuck to a rather predictable track of Brazilian standouts who have used a tried-and-tested combination of Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu for most of the rankings, and the constant complaint from some of our readers is that we haven't dug up a solid American style fighter who uses power from the top to thrash the types of fighters we've ranked on our list previously. Fortunately for those fans, Alex Garcia has the makings of becoming the kryptonite to Brazil's two-pronged attack.
His defense on the ground is a question that needs to be asked if he intends on cruising through the new wave of talent arriving from Brazil, and to be perfectly honest -- some of the Muay Thai fighters making their way through the ranks will provide dangerous challenges to the young Dominican as well. But Garcia has what many fighters, even top level welterweights, don't possess, and that's pure, focused power.
Garcia's strength of record is far from what prospects like Lima and Juarez possess, but the outlook for the future is much more broad than that of both of those fighters in my mind. He has the top control game to knock opponents out instantly, and he also has the developing skills that should grow to their full potential under Firas, especially with the training partners he has at his disposal.
This is one of our risky picks, much like Thiago Michel was. Michel hasn't paid off as he did lose to a relatively unknown fighter this past weekend, although some have said his opponent has phenomenal jiu-jitsu skills. Garcia, however, seems to have the countering tactics to stop those types of opponents, and that's the main reason why he sits at #2 on our 2011 World MMA Welterweight Scouting Report.