(Garcia upsets Kevin Aguilar to win the LFC featherweight title last December. Highlights via AXS TV.)
2013 may have been a toss up between “The Year of the Rhino,” “The Year of the California Kid,” and “The Year of the Ruthless“(?), but there was one former UFC star who perhaps had the greatest career turnaround of them all: Leonard Garcia. Sure, the back-to-back-to-back stoppage victories Garcia picked up under the Legacy FC banner pale in comparison to the high-level wins of the other candidates, but none of those guys were coming off five straight losses either.
Yes, after kicking off last year by getting kicked out of the UFC following a loss to Cody “Tags” McKenzie at UFC 159, Garcia signed with Legacy Fighting Championships and proceeded to go on a three fight tear capped off by a first round TKO over the previously undefeated Kevin Aguilar at LFC 27 that earned him the promotion’s featherweight title. While it might not be the crowning achievement of his career, at least Garcia had to earn the damn thing (*cough* Rousimar Palhares *cough*).
Any which way you look at it, Garcia had a hell of a 2013. And on March 21st, “Bad Boy” will look to keep his win streak going when he faces Bellator and KOTC veteran Shane Howell at Legacy FC 27 in what will hopefully be his first title defense. Not that we have a dog in this fight or anything.
Don’t let Howell’s mediocre 13-7 record fool you, the Oklahoman has been on an absolute tear as of late. Currently riding a six-fight win streak with five finishes and nine victories in his past ten bouts, Howell should easily make for Garcia’s toughest test since exiting the UFC. So yeah, it’s 2014 and Leonard Garcia is *defending* the title of a semi-reputable organization. Who saw that coming?
Legacy FC 27 will also feature a light heavyweight title fight between Paul Buentello — who is enjoying something of a career revival at 205 lbs. to his credit — and Myron Dennis, as well as the return of TUF 12 winner Jonathan Brookins at flyweight.