Las Vegas, NV — In his third trip to the octagon, former Combate Americas lightweight champ Rafa Garcia knew he had a lot on the line.
“I felt like I was fighting for my job, you know? This win was very important for me. That’s part of the reason it was very emotional for me,” Garcia told media outlets including Cageside Press following his decision victory over Natan Levy at UFC Vegas 43. “I did camp in Colorado for two months, had to be away from my family, my newborn baby, my daughter, my wife— it was so hard. When I was in there, that last round, I was telling him ‘you’re not going to take it away from me.’ I fought so hard, I’ve been doing this since I was 13 years old. It took me 14 years to get to the UFC, so you’re not going to take it away from me.”
Having lost his first two UFC bouts, there was little question Garcia’s job was on the line Saturday — and he fought like it.
Teammate Cub Swanson gave Garcia some sage advice ahead of the bout. “He told me, when people get to this level, people don’t break as easy. Everybody’s tough when you’re in the UFC, so you’ve got to break them little by little,” Garcia recalled. “So that was the plan, just break him little by little, touch him up to the body, take him down, get him tired, just be the bigger man right there.”
The victory saw Rafa Garcia become the first man to beat the previously perfect Levy, but it’s not something he was really cognizant of during the fight.
“I wasn’t even thinking about that to be honest. When I was undefeated, I was always told everybody ‘I’m not thinking about that, I’m only thinking about winning,'” Garcia explained. “That’s the only thing I was thinking about, that’s my mentality to every fight, I go in there trying to win. I’m not thinking about my opponent’s record or my record, I’m just going in there trying to win, trying to get that finish.”
“They don’t pay us overtime to stay longer in there,” he added. “So I want to go in there and get out of there as fast as possible and as clean as possible too.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 43 post-fight press scrum with Rafa Garcia above. More coverage from the event can be found below.