(Don’t worry, Leonard, the worst is over!)
It’s been a rough couple of years for Leonard Garcia to say the least. Sure, he was able to remain employed with the UFC despite five straight losses, but Garcia isn’t the type of guy to take his job, let alone a losing streak, lightly. At least, he wasn’t. But somewhere along the line, Garcia became stagnant, he became complacent. He knew all the ins and outs of Team Jackson — one of the highest-acclaimed martial arts gyms in the world — yet he didn’t seem to be progressing as a fighter in the slightest.
But all of that changed when he was finally released from his Zuffa contract following a lackluster decision loss to Cody McKenzie at UFC 159 last month. Realizing that a change was not only necessary, but critical if he were to ever attempt a third run in the UFC, the 33-year old recently told MMAFighting that phase two (phase 3?) of his career will start with a new training camp and a new organization:
I’m going to go out to Team Alpha Male for a little while. My cousin (Ed note: Like, actual cousin or like how Donald Cerrone is “your brother?”) Duane Ludwig is out there, and I talked it over with Greg (Jackson). Greg said, ‘Yeah, the problem is guys that can take you down and hold you down.’ And now I’m going to go to a whole team of guys who are really, really good at that.
Just being the new guy in the room is going to help me a lot, because it’s something different. It’s a style I’ve never seen. Their style is unfamiliar to me. I don’t know all their tricks like I do at Jackson’s. Like, we know each other so well at Jackson’s, and I think that’s caused me to become flat.
I talked it over with both camps and they’re both okay with it. I feel like this is a move that should’ve been a long time ago, but it takes situations like this to make it happen.
Team Alpha Male consists of several of Garcia’s former WEC cohorts; Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, Chad Mendes — who have all either held titles or fought for them in their WEC or UFC careers, often both. The move is undoubtedly a sound idea for Garcia, and the ultra-aggressive yet cardio-heavy style Team Alpha Male has become known for should meld with him nicely.
As for the organization Garcia will likely call home next? The answer might surprise you.
While most would assume that Garcia was destined for Bellator, it actually looks like he might be headed for upstart promotion World Series of Fighting instead. The reasons should be somewhat obvious:
The good offers have come from World Series of Fighting. I believe Bellator made an offer, and I haven’t asked to hear it yet because my intentions are to come back to the UFC. I feel if I go to Bellator, I’ll never come back. That’s one of things where I’m not sure that I’m ready to hear an offer from them.
I’ve also read some stories about a champion there that was promised so much money and was forced to fight for less.
At the moment those are the stories that I’m hearing, and you can’t fight for a company like that. You just can’t do it. They’ll hold you back. If it’s true, they’ll hold you back. But if it’s not true, if I find out different, then I’ll openly talk to them and see what they can offer.
Poor WSOF. We figured that they understood their role as The Island of Misfit UFC Fighters, but to hear fighters who haven’t even signed with the promotion yet label them as such has to be discouraging from a business standpoint. It would be like asking a woman out by first describing how perfect your last girlfriend was, then telling her that she is just attractive enough to maybe make her jealous.