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Monday, 07/29/2013, 12:13 pm

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EXCLUSIVE | Leonard Garcia Discusses Recent Legacy KO Victory Debut, Aldo vs. Korean Zombie, and His Quest Back to the UFC | Late Night Cage Side Radio

By JAKE CHASTAIN

Our boys over at BJPenn.com’s Late Night Cage Side Radio invited longtime fan favorite, Leonard Garcia, onto this week’s show to talk about all the things that have been going on with him and his career as of late. Garcia was recently dropped from the UFC roster after losing 5 straight fights in the organization. Garcia then signed with Legacy FC and made his successful promotional debut on July 19th with a third round head-kick KO of Rey Trujillo to earn himself a shot at the Legacy title in his next fight. Leonard will fight for the belt in September against Nick Gonzalez and had plenty to talk about with hosts Chase Raymond and Kinch on Late Night Cage Side Radio. Here are some of the highlights from that interview with Leonard Garcia:

Garcia was first asked to talk about his successful Legacy debut and how good it felt to get a win after dropping five in a row prior to that bout:

“Everything but the first round went as planned,” he replied. “I had a little bit of an adrenaline dump but as soon as he hit me he brought me right back to where I needed to be and woke me back up and the fight went just like we thought it would go.”

Garcia also commented on his opponent in that bout, Rey Trujillo, prior to and after the fight:

“He had an attitude, man. I really didn’t understand it. He was missing a few teeth so I guess I would be bitter as well. I guess he had a dental problem or something. He had a false tooth in and because of the way that I hit him it caused three of his other teeth to go. They were looking for them and supposedly he swallowed them, so maybe that’s why he had an attitude problem.”

“I wanted to be respectful, shake his hand, and let him know I thought it was a good fight. I was glad he was there and glad he showed up for the fight. You know, if it’s not for the other guy you’re fighting alone, it takes two to tango. So I wanted to show my respects.”

We recently found out that Garcia was splitting time between two camps. He was training at both his longtime home of Greg Jackson’s Camp in New Mexico and Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. He was asked to confirm this and he replied, “I’m splitting camps exactly down the middle.”

He was then asked to comment on Team Alpha Male’s new striking coach, Duane Ludwig. Garcia stated, “Exactly what everybody is saying is true. Duane just breaks everything down. Everything. The kick to the cross that I threw in the fight was something that we were drilling in the back.”

“He’s becoming a great coach. Having him in my corner that night helped out a lot,” he continued, “all the credit he’s getting is right now, he’s definitely deserving.”

Leonard spent a lot of his career at the top of the sport in both the WEC and the UFC. When asked if Dana White contacted him after his big win last week he answered, “Yes. Absolutely. He and Sean Shelby, everybody, they’re not jumping the gun and saying I’ll be back right away but they are jumping the gun saying, you know, that was great, we are watching, we’re very interested in what’s going on with you. So it definitely, like a dog, my ears picked up a little bit, my tail started wagging, you know, it’s definitely a good feeling, man, to know that they’re at least watching and hearing about it.”

“Like I said, I never got blown out in the UFC,” Garcia continued.“Most of my fights were by decision except for two. Two finishes out of 17 fights. So in the UFC that’s quite an accomplishment.”

“But I figured if I could just figure out these little things, little knick and knacks there, I can get in there and start winning more fights. I think I needed this restart and I needed it right now. I’m about to hit my prime years so it’s good that all of that happened and the way it’s going to play out it’ll be a good comeback story.”

“As long as I end my career in the UFC I’ll be happy, but I really, really do want to get back in there. I don’t want to waste too many out here. I definitely want to get another highlight reel knockout in the next one and hopefully just keep it going, man.”

Following his big win last weekend in Legacy, Leonard was scheduled to fight for the title in his next bout. He confirmed the news with us here at BJPenn.com’s Late Night Cage Side Radio when he said,  “September 13th I’m fighting Nick “The Ghost” Gonzalez for the featherweight title at Legacy.”

He then talked about his contract and agreements with Legacy FC:

“I definitely told these guys that I want to stay busy, that I wanted this two fight deal to end with a title,” he said. “I think coming back to the UFC as the champion of a lesser promotion is one of the only ways to get in.”

Leonard was then asked is he has compared Legacy to the UFC:

“Legacy did a great job. They took care of me. They took care of my family. They went above and beyond on a couple of things,” Garcia explained. “The UFC is the best at what they do, so I wasn’t sitting there trying to make comparisons. What I was doing was just appreciating what was in front of me and make the most of it. I was really happy with the way things went, was really looking forward to fighting for them again.”

Garcia was then asked to comment on the recent hot news of fighter pay in MMA.

“I think that fighters getting paid is definitely something that needs to be elevated a bit. I was able to win several bonuses when I was at the UFC so I was able to get on the higher end of being paid and it helped out a lot but I know there are a bunch of guys that don’t get bonuses ever,” he explained. “The captain of the ship is loaded so, you know, kick the guys down just a little bit more would be cool.”

Garcia then went more in depth in explaining how he was cut from the UFC and eventually found his spot in Legacy FC:

“I was going to be benched until December instead of being cut. I chose to be cut because I have a family to take care of,” he stated, “because of the nature of the way life is, I needed money. I wasn’t in dire need or I wasn’t broke but I didn’t want my family to suffer because the UFC couldn’t use me until December.”

He then reassured all of us here at BJPenn.com that his stint in Legacy is only temporary. Garcie stated, “Will I be back in the UFC? I absolutely think so. Will I still have exciting fights? Absolutely so.”

The conversation then shifted to Leonard’s thoughts on the upcoming UFC featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Chan Sung Jung

“The Zombie always comes through with some exciting stuff .He always does good things,” he began. But his stance quickly shifted when he said,  “ when I thought he was going to steamroll some person he ended up getting knocked-out; that was in the George Roop fight. You know, the stars aligned just right for George Roop that night.”

He continued by giving his stance on Aldo and how the two matched up:

“Jose Aldo is an animal, man. it’s one of those fights…do I want the Korean Zombie to win? Absolutely. You know, I have a win over him. If he could win this fight that would definitely up my stock a little bit. Do I think he can? I don’t think he can win, but I think he’s going to go out there and give a crazy effort. I think Aldo is just so technical and he does things that the Zombie is not going to be ready for.”

“But, like I said,” he continued,  “I’m rooting for The Zombie. Do I think he can? No. Kind of like the Canelo Alvarez and Mayweather fight. I want Canelo to win with all my heart but do I think he can? No I don’t. But I hope he does.”

Late Night Cage Side Radio recently talked with another UFC top featherweight contender, Ricardo Lamas. Lamas feels that he is absolutely the top contender in the division and many fans are questioning The Korean Zombie’s place in the title fight over Lamas. Garcia was asked to comment on who he thought the top contender in the division was.

“I think Lamas was, to be honest,” he admitted. “I really think that he had the most legitimate claim. I thought for sure that as soon as Pettis got hurt, Lamas was going to get the call.”

“Stylistically I think he’s the more dangerous guy to fight.”

To conclude the interview with Leonard the conversation shifted back to his upcoming Legacy title fight with Nick Gonzalez in September. Leonard was asked what Gonzalez was going to bring to the table and how Leonard felt the fight was going to play out.

“Nick has a great boxing background,” he said. “I feel like being able to go in there and show a little more wrestling and a little more ground game in this fight is something that is my goal.”

He assured the fans that his ultimate goal is to be back in the UFC very soon but knows that this fight could earn him that ticket back to the big show. For this fight though, he explained that he wants to, “Just kind of show a complete game.”

We wish Mr. Garcia the best of luck in that upcoming Legacy FC featherweight title fight and we would like to thanks him for talking with BJPenn.com’s Late Night Cage Side Radio.

-Jake Chastain

@jchastain45

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