UFC 159’s Leonard Garcia is already feeling the buzz in the New York-New Jersey area. An hour into being in the Northeast, Garcia said MMA fans were ready to collect autographs and take pictures with their favorite fighters at the host hotel.
This kind of excitement is also typical in most of Garcia’s fights, which has led UFC President Dana White to say things like “there’s no way in Hell” they’re ever cutting Garcia from the roster. But with a four-fight losing streak, even “Bad Boy” isn’t content with his job security. In fact, he said he’ll cut himself from the UFC roster if he doesn’t get a win on Saturday night.
“I feel like if I don’t win, I’ll give myself my walking papers,” Garcia told GRACIEMAG.com. “I think this is the most important fight of my career. This is either the start to the comeback or the declining spiral to try and figure things out.”
Garcia has been on the losing end of what some may consider close fights during his WEC and UFC tenures. But while he’s lost a few — 10 altogether — he admits that some of his 15 wins have come to him by surprise. It’s difficult to tell exactly what the judges are going to say before ring announcer Bruce Buffer reads the scores, but the best way to avoid that anxiety is to keep it out of their hands, he said.
As his UFC boss has preached in the past, never leave it to the judges.
“At the end of the day, you can’t let it go to the judges,” he said. “I know Dana says that … but I’m notorious for split decisions.”
Maybe it’s his fighting style that keeps matches going to the judges, Garcia explained. There’s also the notion that UFC fighters are so competitive in terms of skill that close decisions are more prevalent in the Octagon. Just last weekend, for example, lightweight champion Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez fought to a split decision and scorecards were all over the place. Half of everyone thought Henderson won while the other half saw it in Melendez’s favor.
While Henderson was the official winner of the fight, Melendez said he thought he won the contest. Either way, one has to finish it before time expires to avoid the uncertainty.
“You have to find a way to finish it,” Garcia said, adding, “it’s just one of those things where our skill levels are so close right now.”
A finish is in Garcia’s crosshairs, and that’s the kind of result he’s planning when he fights Cody McKenzie at the Prudential Arena on Saturday. Despite his last three fights all going to decision, the featherweight said he’s looking to stop McKenzie within the first five minutes of their preliminary card bout.
McKenzie, like Garcia, is coming off a loss, which leads the fighter to believe this is do-or-die fight. Regardless of the job security previously laid out by Garcia’s employers because of his excitement in the cage, he feels like five losses in a row might be pushing it too much. One more loss and it could be all done.
But like the energy coming from fans in New Jersey and the surrounding areas during fight week, Garcia said he’s going to bring it on Saturday night. He said he’s not ready to get his walking papers from anyone. Not his superiors. Not his opponent. Nobody.
“Cody’s not taking my job,” he exclaimed. “That’s all I’m going to say.”