UFC Featherweight Leonard Garcia spoke with Tristen Critchfield of Sherdog on several topics, from his favorite pro wrestler to rediscovering his faith. Garcia's work ethic had been eroding and his recent losing streak finally caused it to hit him that he had truly fallen behind. Here is what he had to say to Critchfield:
"It took all this to humble me and to make me realize that I wasn't the superstar I thought I was. You don't want to think about stuff like that when you're training. I‘m here with the best guys in the world. I'm in here hanging with them every day. I wasn't pushing them anymore. I was just satisfied with hanging in.
Guys started passing me up. Guys started getting better. I realized that something was going wrong. I had to come back in and do the classes like everybody else. I had to put my time in on the mat. Now it's getting back to normal. The main guys are talking about me like I'm a main guy again. They're asking me to be part of their rounds again. Whereas it used to be, I'd volunteer and they'd be like, ‘That's all right.'"
Most people who have taken part in athletics know that feeling of not being a part of the "A team" in their gym or on their team and can appreciate what Garcia was going through. And the determination that it takes to work his way back into the "A" group is something that is a personal accomplishment for him and something to be proud of as an athlete.
Garcia also touched on a darker time in his life. He spoke about injuries leading up to his fight with Matt Grice, which he lost badly. Garcia says the injuries were serious but that if he had pulled out of the fight he would have lost his house
"I had a fractured ankle in that fight. The last Thursday of sparring I went with Clay Guida, I kicked him right in the knee and my foot blew up the size of a basketball. I iced it all weekend - couldn't run, couldn't do anything. I took the fight for financial reasons. I had no choice. I had to take the fight or lose my home. Everybody knows when you make choices in life, you pay for them. I made the wrong decision."
This is stern reminder of some of the serious financial challenges faced by fighters and how much is often going on behind the scenes not seen by fans or media.