by: Jack Bratcher
In April of 2007 Leonard “the Bad Boy” Garcia was called into the UFC on short notice to fight Roger Huerta in what became one of the most exciting fights in UFC history. Garcia stepped onto the biggest stage in the world and performed miraculously and that is something that people do not forget. Zuffa certainly has not forgot.
After a year that has been filled with legal issues and with the biggest fight of his career less than three weeks away, we thought it would be the perfect time to speak with Leonard to see how things are going and to find out if he is prepared mentally and physically to face one of the sport’s legends in the WEC on September 10th.
Thanks so much Leonard for taking the time to speak with us here at PRO MMA. We’ve been wanting to talk to you for some time and I’m very excited to finally get the opportunity to speak to you.
PRO MMA: Where are you from Leonard and how long have you been involved with mixed martial arts?
LEONARD: I am from Plainview, Texas born and raised. I had my first mma fight there in 1999 and started training in Lubbock, Texas.
PRO MMA: How was Leonard as a kid? What was life like growing up there for you?
LEONARD: I was a farm boy growing up and a momma’s boy. I was raised by my grandparents so I had a great childhood.
PRO MMA: What caused you to want to be a professional fighter; how did you know this was what you wanted to do?
LEONARD: I started fighting in 99 at a small show in Plainview in a dance hall then after that win I started training with Clay Pittman and learn stand up with my brothers.
PRO MMA: You started fighting professionally in 1999 but in 2003 you took a three year hiatus from professional MMA competition. May I ask why?
LEONARD: I was doing good then I moved to Lubbock and I got into hanging with the wrong crowd. It took me a while to come to my senses so I started boxing in 2004-05 then came back to mma in 06. Then I got the call from the UFC and my life finally started. I felt as if I was reborn.
PRO MMA: The last time we saw you in the cage was against a tough Hiroyuki Takaya at WEC 32 and you won by TKO just a minute-thirty into round one. It was your first fight at 145 lbs., you looked incredible in that fight.
LEONARD: I fought at 155 and after a few wars I was noticing my weight was coming down lower and lower everytine until I was walking at 158, so coach Jackson suggested I go back to my normal weigtht class of 145 and I did. I feel great at this weight and feel better in fighting guys my size.
PRO MMA: It seemed you had found your groove and your place and the WEC featherweight belt was in your sights. There was talk about you fighting Urijah Faber for the title and then something happened that kind of threw a monkey wrench into everything. Is that right?
LEONARD: I had some things from the old days try and come back and bite me in the butt. Once the truth came out I was not charged federally. I may get a little backlash but as far as I’m concerned it’s behind me and I’m moving forward with my life and never looking back.
PRO MMA: How has the whole incident affected you mentally and physically? It seemed as though you had a great support system with your family when all of this went down, is everything still good there? What has it meant to have the support of your family, friends, and fans?
LEONARD: It affected me for a while because I went to jail and felt like a low life but now that my life is back on track I feel like it made me appreciate my life and my family. They never left my side and never let me get down on myself. I am a superhero to them. I feel like I am the glue in our family so its important for me to stay on track. Win or lose they got my back.
PRO MMA: Are you still traning with Greg Jackson in Albuquerque?
LEONARD: Greg is training me for the rest of my career.
PRO MMA: Your next fight is against Jens Pulver on September 10 in the WEC Featherweight division. What’s your opinion of Jens’ skills, do you plan to stand and how do you match up with him and how do you see this fight going?
LEONARD: I am always willing to fight standing but I feel like he lacks a little in the wrestling so I will see how this fight takes place. Jens is crafty, tough, and one of the pioneers in the sport but i feel like this is a test I have to take and I cant wait to mix it up.
PRO MMA: Is it safe to assume if you get past Pulver that the winner of Faber/Brown would be your next fight for the title? Also, your fight with Huerta had to have impressed Dana; was it more of a decision to fight at 145 and go to the WEC, or may we see you back in the UFC at 55?
LEONARD: I am at 145 until I get the title then I will consider coming back to 155. I am gonna be around for a while.
PRO MMA: If I’m not mistaken, you are only 29 years old right? How long do you see yourself staying in the fight game and what can we expect out of Leonard Garcia in the months and years to come?
LEONARD: I’m still learning all aspects of the game. I’m getting better everyday so you can count on my 6 fight years to extend to about 12 or 20. So I’m gonna be around for a while.
PRO MMA: Do you have any final thoughts, words of wisdom or anything you would like to say to your fans?
LEONARD: I want the fans to know I always push the pace. I won’t fold for anyone. I will always give it my all. I think that the fans pay to see a fight and that’s what they deserve. Oh and I’m watching the company I keep, so no more problems in the future; just great fights in my future I hope.
Thank you so much Leonard for taking time out of your schedule to talk with us. I know your fans and everyone miss seeing you in the ring and we can’t wait until you get back in there on September 10th. You have a ton of talent and are always very exciting to watch so thank you for doing what you do. Good luck in your fight.
WEC: Faber vs. Pulver will be televised live nationally on VERSUS on Wednesday September 10 beginning at 9:00 pm ET/6:00 pm PT. Tickets for WEC: Faber vs. Pulver are on sale now. Tickets may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone at 916-649-TIXS, 530-528-TIXS or 209-551-TIXS or by visiting the ARCO Arena Box Office. Tickets also are available online through www.wec.tv or www.ticketmaster.com.