After an eventful UFC 259, the promotion stays at the Apex for UFC Vegas 21. The event is headlined by Leon Edwards taking on Belal Muhammad, who is taking this fight on short notice. Also on the card is Dan Ige vs. Gavin Tucker, Angela Hill, Rani Yahya, Nasrat Haqparast, and more. Guram Kutateladze vs. Don Madge originally was booked for this card. Kutateladze had to pull out and in came Nasrat Haqparast. Then Madge has to pull out due to visa issues. Now Haqparast (12-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) will fight newcomer Rafa Garcia.
Rafa “Gifted” Garcia
Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico
How will Garcia fare in the UFC:
Garcia has gotten into the UFC the right way. He had a good amount of experience beforehand and tested himself against some good fighters. Garcia is a jiu-jitsu guy but likes to stand and trade. On the feet, what he does well is press forward, throw a massive looping overhand right, and just close the distance. I do see him having trouble closing the distance at times and getting picked apart from the outside. Garcia does not use the most effective footwork but instead follows his opponents.
His wrestling isn’t rated the highest, just because he doesn’t set up his takedowns. Garcia is good at just dropping down and grabbing a single leg. Most of the time he won’t complete the takedown on the first attempt but will at least push opponents against the cage and get it down from there. Garcia is a slick grappler and a very dangerous submission threat when he opens up. Sometimes Garcia will stall on top in full guard just holding position. The thing is, if you try to scramble, there’s a good chance he either takes an arm or takes your back. On his back, he is questionable as I’ve seen him get his back taken and controlled for a large portion of the fight.
- Striking: C
- Kickboxing: C+
- Clinch: C+
- Wrestling: B
- Grappling: B+
- Striking Defense: C+
- Takedown Defense: B-
- Cardio: B
- Biggest Strength: Grappling
- Biggest Weakness: Striking defense
How he matches up with Haqparast:
Garcia will have to take Haqparast down but that may be a challenge he can’t complete just yet. Haqparast has solid takedown defense stuffing 18 of 22 takedowns (unofficial) in the UFC. His takedown defense is around 81%. If Garcia is not able to close the distance successfully, he will get picked apart on the feet. Haqparast throws not only with a lot of power but a lot of output. Striking-wise, Haqparast is much better and even when it comes to the ground game it’s not too far apart. Haqparast has fought other solid wrestlers and grapplers and looked very good. While Garcia may have a bright future Haqparast is a bad match-up for him, especially on short notice. I like Haqparast and I think he can finish Garcia with strikes.