It's been a few weeks since we last saw Leonard Garcia in the octagon, and after several years with the UFC and WEC under the Zuffa umbrella, we won't be seeing him there again, at least for the immediate future. As is the case with most fighters that are in the good graces of the company, if he strings together some good wins outside the organization, he has an open invitation to come back. With offers flowing in from Bellator, ONE FC, and Legacy, it would seem that he has no shortage of options.
Garcia, always affable and optimistic, has every intention of doing just that. He feels that a change in his training landscape may be in order, and plans to do just that to get his career back on track. In a recent interview with MMA Sentinel, Leonard discussed his training plans, what went wrong in the McKenzie fight, and even hinted at a weight change. Here's what he had to say:
I'm just trying to figure out the best way to get back to where I need to be, what organization to go fight for, and stuff like that. I'm trying not to look at it as a negative thing. After a performance like my last fight, even if I had been on a two or three fight win streak, I think I would have gotten cut.
I just didn't feel good. I felt flat. The best way I know how to explain it is that I felt like I had a flat tire. It was like that. I never got going, I couldn't get anything, my timing was off, just everything was wrong. It was a terrible, terrible night for me. I felt it when I was in there, I felt it when I was out of the cage, afterward. It was a bad, bad performance. For them to try to hold on to me after that was just too much, and I told them, 'No, I need to get back. I need a reality check. I need to go back to the beginning and remember what got me there in the first place.'
Sean (Shelby) agreed, and we sat and talked for a while and tried to make decisions based off what we have to work with. The good thing is that the UFC wants guys that are gonna fight. They want guys that are gonna perform, and at the end of the day, even though I had losses, they were hard fought decision losses. I always hung in there and had tough fights with some top guys. This last one, maybe because of who I was fighting, I just couldn't get fired up for it at all.
I know I had seven fight of the night bonuses, but I wasn't winning. It's tough to be in the UFC when you're not winning. They knew it. I knew it. Everybody knows it. Having this opportunity to get back to it, and go to a smaller show will help me actually appreciate where I was. I think it's going to be a great step for me to refine my skills and do all the things I need to do to make me a better fighter.
Everyone but Bellator
I've already gotten offers from Legacy, Bellator, and ONE FC. There's not a shortage of people that want me to go fight for them, so that's a pretty good thing. The fans still want to see me fight, too. I'm getting a big response on Twitter and Instagram. It's a good feeling to know that I've got support.
There's a real big conflict between Bellator and the UFC, and I'm looking to come right back to the UFC after a few good wins within the next six to seven months. I'm going to try to stay busy and active, and treat these fights as kind of a learning curve.
The organizations that seem to be the right ones for me are Legacy, WSOF or ONE FC; something that won't try to bind me into a long contract. I want to go somewhere that will give me a couple fights and then see what happens.
I disagree with the thing Bellator did with Eddie Alvarez. I feel like a company shouldn't try to hold a guy back like that. That's one of the things that makes me not even want to consider Bellator. After I talked to Sean Shelby, then I knew for sure that Bellator wouldn't even be an option.
This had to happen for me to make some type of change. Of course, I've got my cousin, Duane Ludwig, out there with Team Alpha Male, and he's been texting me like crazy. He's like, 'Hey man, the problem is that guys can take you down and hold you down. I've got a room full of people that can take you down and hold you down. You need to get up here and do what you've got to do to get back to the UFC.'
Greg (Jackson) agreed. He said, 'Yeah, let's send you out there for a little while and see how that fits. Maybe do half your camp up there and half your camp down here, and we'll figure it out.'
Maybe all these changes will do me some good. Maybe I'll come back into the UFC and be a wrestler [laughs]. I never made any enemies in this sport. Even guys that I've fought against have always been willing to let me train with them. Being that Duane is there at Alpha Male, and there's no conflict of interest, because there's nobody there that I'll be fighting any time soon, it just works out well.
I think at Jackson's, I know everybody's style. I know everyone there, so I compete well against all of them. I've always gotten really excited when we would get new guys coming in to train, but my growth has still slowed down a lot, because I know what everybody's gonna do and I know how to avoid all their stuff.
I couldn't make the move out there, like relocate permanently, but maybe during my training camps I would consider going, but there's no way I could make a permanent move. My family is just not set for that right now. I'm actually based out of Texas and do my camps in Albuquerque now. I'm still co-owner of the ranch, but I just got a house here in Texas for my family.
There's been a lot of bouncing up and down, and I don't blame everything that's been going on specifically on that, but I know I've had my plate full for a while now. Now that I'm finally stating to settle down, maybe it's too little too late, at least for the UFC, but I feel like if I just find my stride, get all the things that I need to get together, and get my confidence back, then I can come back into the UFC and show everybody what they missed out on for the time it took me to get back there.
Possible Weight Change
145 is an easy cut for me. I could push the envelope and try to make 35, which is something that we thought about for a while, but I don't know if I'll be that effective at 35. I can make 35, but I don't know if I'll carry all my strength over. 145 seems to be a perfect fit for me, right now.
I've always come in at 45 or 44, and I've even seen 40 before and still felt good. The second time I fought Nam Phan, I accidentally started my cut too early, and got all the way down to 140 pounds, and then rehydrated back up to 145. By the time we weighed in, I was at 43.
So, I've seen 40 before, and that always raised a question in my mind that makes me wonder how I would do at 35. I guess we'll just have to see. Maybe I'll come back as a 35er.
You can follow Leonard via his Twitter account, @BadboyGarcia