Photo by Scott Peterson via MMA Weekly
Nam Phan may have fought on season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter as a lightweight, but the UFC-WEC marger quickly changed things. Recalibrating his weight to a more natural and precendented 145lbs, Phan's task was no easier at featherweight. Taking on Greg Jackson slugger Leonard Garcia, Phan had to prove he was more than just well-rounded. He needed to demonstrate he could defeat known entities at the UFC level. Garcia, on the other hand, after dropping a split decision loss to Mark Hominick, wanted to ensure roster space on the new and improved UFC organization.
Early in the bout both fighters connected with very hard punches, mostly as a consequence of Phan trying to crowd Garcia. Much like he did in his bout with Michael Johnson, Phan went after Garcia's body early in the round. Garcia couldn't do much to dodge, but was throwing long, hard punches that often landed throughout the fight. Closer to the end of the first, Garcia was throwing more strikes, but Phan landed more and with cleaner precision. Phan likely took the first frame.
Garcia started the second round with a much higher rate of activity, many shots missing but many shots landing as well. Roughly three minutes into the second round, Garcia attempted a double leg, but Phan was able to break free. Phan continued his attack to the body, but it was a combination that landed to the head that hurt and ultimately dropped Garcia badly. During a scramble in follow-up, Phan took Garcia's back and at one point it almost appeared as if Garcia tapped, although no real choke was being applied at that moment. Phan and Garcia finished the round there and it was arguably a 10-8 round for The Ultimate Fighter veteran.
Round three started as round two did with Garcia being active and trying to volume punch his way to a win. Soon Garcia shot in for a double, but Phan was able to stand without much resistance. Phan continued his attack to the body and Garcia continued his response with ferociously wild attacks. Phan stayed disciplined and landed several crisp body shots and uppercuts throughout the course of the round. Phan also used distancing and movement to stay out of the reach or block Garcia's wild punches or kicks.
Strangely, though, the judges scored the bout 29-28 Garcia, 30-27 Phan, 29-28 Leonard Garcia.