Steve Garcia is willing to fight where ever the UFC will have him — but he’s excited to compete in front of fans once again at UFC 275.
“I think having a crowd there is going to be great. I’m excited to have a crowd there again,” he told The Top Turtle Podcast on Cageside Press recently. “I think that energy is so awesome to feel. It’s people that are just fans, that want to see two people go at it— I think that’s awesome.”
Garcia (12-4), a former Bellator MMA veteran, is 1-1 in the UFC to date, and entering the octagon for the third time on Saturday in Singapore. He’d paired up with Damir Hadzovic earlier this year, only for that bout to fall through. In the end, it may have worked out for the best, as Garcia landed on a higher-profile card against promotional newcomer Hayisaer Maheshate.
In an interesting twist, Garcia, who moved up in weight for a short-notice opportunity against Luis Pena in February 2020 to break into the UFC, is sticking with the lightweight division. For good reason, he explained.
“Most of my fights are at 35. Most people don’t really know that, they think it’s spread out to 45. I want to say, I think total, and this is including amateur and all my other fights too, this will be my 33rd fight,” he recalled. “And I want to say anywhere from 26 to 28 of them are at 35 [bantamweight]. I’ve had maybe three or four of them at 45 [featherweight], this will be my third one at 55 [lightweight]. At the end of the day, my ultimate goal is to win no matter what weight class I’m at.”
But the reason Garcia is continuing to fight at 155 pounds isn’t about gaining any sort of advantage, he continued. “It became a medical issue for me. I was actually scheduled to face Steven Peterson and Charles Jourdain at 45, but I was running into a lot of medical issues, like gut related. And so I was having trouble. I didn’t want to pull out but I pushed my body to the limit, and it just would backfire on me, I’d feel so sick. After so long, you know something’s wrong.”
While training for those fights at 145 pounds, Garcia was forced to make a decision. “I’m like ‘man this is going to be hard for me, especially dealing with some of the issues that I’ve been dealing with, but I think the safest bet for me is to go to 55 until I figure things out. And if I stay here at 55 then I stay at 55.'”
Lack of experience at lightweight didn’t help matters. “It was a difficult decision to make just because I’d never really competed at 55 until I fought Luis Pena. It was tough, I’m still dealing with it, I still have to deal with the fact that I am fighting bigger guys, and I’m trying to put on a little bit of size myself. So I’m mainly doing it for the safety and health of myself,” continued Garcia, who admits that in the end, years of cutting weight has finally caught up with him.
“I’ve cut weight so hard for so many years, that’s pretty much the problem of why I’ve been struggling so much with weight cutting— now it’s caught up to me.” Noting that his body is healing up pretty well, however, “who knows,” Garcia added. “I might be back at 45, but right now, 55 is my home.”
Steve Garcia faces Hayisaer Maheshate in a lightweight clash at UFC 275 on Saturday, June 11, 2022. The bout will be part of the televised preliminary portion of the Singapore-based card.