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Incredibly, Leonard Garcia Will Keep His Job, Despite Fourth-Straight Loss at UFC 155

(Eyes closed? Hands nowhere near his chin? Yep, that’s a man who has made his peace with getting punched in the mouth. / Photo via Tracy Lee)

UFC featherweight Leonard Garcia has had a rough last couple of years, going winless in 2011 and 2012, including his split-decision loss to Max Holloway this weekend on the UFC 155 prelims, but at least his new year won’t get immediately worse. UFC prez Dana White has promised that Garcia will not be cut from the organization’s roster, despite racking up his fourth-consecutive loss.

“There’s no way in hell we’re cutting Leonard Garcia,” White told assembled media after the fights on Saturday.

Garcia’s UFC job security cuts both ways. On the one hand, he’s a balls-to-the-wall fighter who is always exciting, if sloppy. A guts and glory fighter like Garcia is a promoter’s dream. He doesn’t have to be great to be marketable.

On the other hand, Garcia has only managed to win three times in his last eleven fights as a Zuffa fighter. Such a poor winning percentage in an active UFC fighter is an aberration, to say the least. Typically, even exciting fan favorites are cut loose after two or three consecutive losses and told to go put together a win streak on the regional circuits before they are brought back to the UFC.

Is it possible that, at some point, a UFC fighter who keeps losing reflects poorly on the organization’s status as the top MMA promotion in the world? Perhaps, but probably not. It’s a perception game. And we’re willing to bet that most MMA fans, hard core or casual, will be hard-pressed to see a substantial qualitative difference between a fighter like Garcia and one that he lost a close decision to, like Holloway, who is on a three-fight win streak and has only lost once in his pro career.

Additionally, it is difficult to get up in arms about the retention of the services of a fighter like Garcia, who gives it his all every fight against the best in the world, when we also express surprise and outrage when a fighter is cut seemingly too fast after just one or two losses.

That being said, Garcia has gone from losing to top contenders (Mark Hominick, Chan Sung Jung), to losing to tough veterans (Nam Phan, Matt Grice), to losing to green prospects like the 21-year-old Holloway. Garcia is not an elite featherweight, and it’s hard to even call him a gatekeeper at this point. His spot on the UFC roster comes at the expense of another featherweight, somewhere out there, who might deserve it more.

What do you think, nation? Is Garcia’s job security a good thing for the UFC and MMA or is it degrading the quality of their roster?

- Elias Cepeda

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knucklesamitch- January 2, 2013 at 9:36 am

My only problem with the comparison is comparing MMA to any other non-combat sport is apples to oranges. As for Lorenzo's quote, of course he's going to say that ... He wants to train your brain to think UFC is to MMA as NFL is to football. The 4 major sports have one thing in common and that's union. The players work together to the benefit of each other ... Past, present, future. In the UFC, you don't have that. GSP, Anderson Silva, Brock Lesnar, whoever else you want to name, they don't give a shit that Dan Severn is 54 years old and just retired and probably doesn't have a lot of money. They also don't care that guys like Leonard Garcia are consistently putting on the best fights, but getting paid $8-12k to show. In combat sports, individuals are out to get theirs ... There's no union, and there never will be, so I don't think it's fair to compare UFC t NBA.

You stated that the Heat paid out $78mil of their $124mil revenue ... Do you think they did that out of the kindness of their heart? You don't think they wouldn't ink players to deals similar to the UFC if they could? They paid out that much money because there's a CBA that says they have to.
XENOPHON- January 2, 2013 at 8:18 am
knucklesamitch - One should remember that the UFC has many franchised brands. They were/are WEC, IFL, WFA, Pride, DSE, and Strike Force for starters.

This is the exact same as when the NFL also dabbled in the absorption game when they consumed the AFL in 1970, while during the same time the NBA absorbed and dismantled the ABA in 1976.

Lorenzo Fertitta himself said of the Pride acquisition, and I will quote for you "This is really going to change the face of MMA...literally creating a sport that could be as big around the world as football. I (Lorenzo) liken it somewhat to when the NFC and AFC came together to create the NFL."

I am 100% correct. Today it is you who is wrong to try and compare the UFC to foreign sports organizations. Those organizations are local only to Canada or Russia earning only a fraction of what a U.S. organization such as the NBA and specifically the UFC.

The majority owner of the UFC himself compares and likens his holdings to that of the NFL. You're free to disagree Lorenzo Fertitta if you must. Yet, to the majority of the individuals in audience here, the comparison makes complete sense to them, me, and the UFC/Zuffa's executive management.

The NBA (Miami Heat) makes much less revenue than the UFC, yet pays orders of magnitude (x10) better than the gippy-ass UFC. Not forgetting the origins of this thread, this is partially why Dana White came to aid of Leonard Garcia, when asked about the 3 lost fights and you are fired mandate.

Leonard Garcia is a perfect example of being marginally paid, if not grossly underpaid for allowing the UFC to claim they produce the highest level of MMA action. It's a lie, a marketing trick. The truth is men like Leonard bring it for real into the octagon, so that Lesnar, Kimbo, and others can flop on live TV and help the UFC take the loot to their own bank.
XENOPHON- January 2, 2013 at 7:38 am
@ Pen 15 - Hitting the nail on the head with the fact that the UFC splinters the fighters. We are in agreement that the fighters, with very few exceptions or mere fodder. I used Nurmagomedov and the NBA completely randomly, to demonstrate that the UFC is flush with cash from exploiting their employee's and that they fabricated their often phoney claims of having the best fighters, which is not the case. This picture says it all.
knucklesamitch- January 2, 2013 at 7:31 am

Your comparision of Lebron to a UFC fighter makes zero sense. A better comparison would be any hockey player who plays professionally in say, Russia, or Canada, then comes to the NHL. Moving teams within the NBA is not the same as fighting outside the UFC, and then within the UFC.
Paste- January 2, 2013 at 6:14 am
I think Dana is just hoping to get invited out by Garcia and Cowboy Cerrone on one of their epic sleepovers.
godspeed- January 2, 2013 at 12:15 am
you losers think to much about this s*** and cage potato does not put up enough stuff daily
Pen Fifteen- January 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm
XENO, you're right that UFC fighters probably take home a disproportionately small share of the total revenue when compared to the average professional athlete, but that's to be expected since the sport has no labor solidarity, unlike the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, etc. And why should that be surprising given the way corporate America works in general? Young hotshots can easily earn pay bumps: look at Jon Jones.

Nurmagomedov's 18 pre-UFC really mean little given that he was probably mostly just smashing cans in Russia. There is no equivalence between his early fights and his UFC fights the way there is between logging NBA games in Cleveland and Miami. And why would something other than UFC seniority matter? Nurmagomedov's record is gaudy, but 18-0 has miniscule marketing value compared to a couple of highlight-reel KOs that can be recycled on barker videos, Sportscenter, UFC Unleashed, compilation DVDs, etc.

And shit, look at how much Brock Lesnar made in like 6 UFC fights. That had fuck-all to do with seniority. The irony of course is that Lesnar is one of the most despised fighters, at least among "hardcore" fans, of all time, presumably for his illegitimacy and opportunism. Yet, he is probably one of maybe two or three fighters ever (possibly also Couture and also Royce Gracie) to be able to con a promoter into giving him a cut of the profits that is actually fair.
XENOPHON- January 1, 2013 at 4:29 pm
Looking below as the likely slightly outdated list of divisional fighters on the roster it is stacked by UFC only bouts, whereas the UFC at their website lists all their career fights including fights from other organizations.

I'd never thought much about it before, but the UFC (unless your a Overheem caliber acquisition) bases their progressive/tiered pay on UFC fight experience only.

In essence they stack the deck over pay to their favor much like the military does. For example Khabib Nurmagomedov has a career of 18-0. In the UFC their contracts pay only his 2-0 UFC record, yet they boast of the 18-0 record on their website.

The UFC practice is deceptive and fighters are patently stupid to get lulled into a disadvantaged salary negotiations. Before anyone comes running to the UFC's defense, consider this.

If the UFC is to be thought of as the premier employer to work for, then the same can be claimed of the NBA for basketball employment. True?

It would be the same as LeBron James starting his pay at about $4 million his first year 2003-04 with Cleveland. Then gaining 6 years worth of experience with Cleveland and getting paid nearly $16 million his last year of 2009-10.

Only to switch teams (think of a fighter moving up or down in weight classes) and resigning with Miami (still a NBA entity) in 2010-11 for only $12k per fight.

Would LeBron ever accepted the position that none of his efforts or experience are worth near nothing, of course not!

We know LeBron was paid for his experience and results with Cleveland. And we know Miami started him at $14.5 million his first year, and now pays him $17.5 million. Yet, many people/fans here at CP seem to want to believe that its perfectly fine nearly every new fighter starts out earning peanuts.

This year the Miami Heat had revenue of $124 million dollars, $78 million was paid to players.

As far back as 2006, the UFC had a revenue of $223 million. Can anyone tell us what the UFC payroll is today, or in 2006?
Mr_Misanthropy- January 1, 2013 at 4:29 pm
Garcia looks like Animal from the Muppets if you shaved all his red fur off.

"I what do! Eat drums! Rarrrrgh!"
Pen Fifteen- January 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm
Leonard "Bag Boy" Garcia
dipsetkilla316- January 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm
Garcia suck ass
kuzcojram- January 1, 2013 at 2:18 pm
garcia split decision
Sniffer-Piffits- January 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm
I disagree with the idea that he is taking away a spot for someone possibly more deserving. The UFC is unlike other sports where they have roster limits. They can sign as many or few as they please. If there is someone out there more deserving he will be signed also. Maybe have Garcia fight Cyborg as a warm up fight before the inter-gender championship fight with Rowdy ROADHEAD Rowsey? Just a thought....
coolsnow7- January 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm
The UFC is expanding, and probably has a shortage of qualified featherweights to begin with (despite being one of the bigger divisions in the UFC, up until Guida and Edgar moved down, there were like 2 prospective contenders). The UFC isn't keeping him around because he's exciting or whatever - the UFC is keeping him around because they need him, and the fact that he's exciting is a bonus.
Thumblaster- January 1, 2013 at 11:17 am
War "thunder"
Thumblaster- January 1, 2013 at 11:15 am
The arturo gatti of mma.always exciting always looking to bang.why cut a potential fight of the night every time he's in the cage.i just hope he's not dateing arturo's ex.
XENOPHON- January 1, 2013 at 9:53 am
Garcia has now joined the ranks of the UFC's fluffer squad. He can win or lose on any given day, yet his value seems to be that has a combined record of 7 Fight of Nights, 1 Knock-out of the Night, 1 Fight of the year, and a Championship fight back in WEC (2009 loss to Mike Brown.)

Out of 26 fights, 16 wins. Hummm... If Elias had done the math, Garcia's real earnings come not from the scheduled fight pay, but his performance in the cage with bonus earn outs for excellence. That doesn't mean he has to win every single card his puppet masters assign him too.

I posit Garcia is skilled and tough enough to be in the UFC, period. After 4 straight losses, he is still around because the UFC knows it matters not who, when, or where he fights, they know he delivers a great performance and people want to see his next match because he makes it entertaining and doesn't ever cry, flounder, or whimper.

As for Elias view that he is no gatekeeper, that is a fair assessment, but he does take risks in going for it when the camera is turned on. For that the UFC, FOX, and Fuel need him to make fights entertaining.

His boy Cerrone (as in good friends) likely keeps him tuned up at the 40 acre "Cowboy Fight Ranch." Garcia may just be the UFC's best number 1 paid fluffer and that is why he is still in their stables.
Pen Fifteen- January 1, 2013 at 9:11 am
Wow, the librarian and beef kurtains just killed it. Nothing more to see here.
beef_kurtains- January 1, 2013 at 8:12 am
Cepeda is so fucking strange with the jocks he rides. CP shits the bed when Frankie "The Decision" Edgar loses a close fight, but doesn't give a shit when he loses.

In this case, garcia gets a pass because he "bangs bro!". Does it really require an entire article to sort out why he's still on the fucking roster?

Clown shoes.
The Librarian- January 1, 2013 at 8:09 am
Pretentious, didactic tone.

An overriding directive to respect the sport and protect its reputation.

Nary a joke to be seen (despite a wealth of material).

Why do you even want to write for Cagepotato? I've met Baptist preachers with a better sense of humor, and they were less condescending.

For the fuck of shit, Cepeda. You're decently educated and you obviously have passion for MMA, but Ben Fowlkes you are not. Stop trying so hard and have some fun. You could have gotten paid to make fun of Leonard Garcia, entertain us goons, and everybody wins.

Instead, you turned in this shit?

Bitch, please.
XENOPHON- January 1, 2013 at 7:43 am
How about this bout at Lightweight 155 pounds, Melvin Paul Guillard vs. Leonard Garcia?
NinjaVanish- January 1, 2013 at 4:49 am
Considering they cut Gerald Harris, who went 3-1 with 2 KOTN bonuses in the UFC, I think it's fucking ridiculous that they keep him around. Like Elias said, somebody out there is getting passed up because of this shit.
Clyde- January 1, 2013 at 4:49 am
I think Garcia should have won that fight anyway, and while there are a couple of other decisions which he won that he shouldn't have, I'd still rather watch a great fight than great fighter. Leonard may never hold the belt, but I'm never bored during his fights.
elburrogrande- December 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm
wish the judges would have scored this fight correctly so this article wouldn't exist
FightZen- December 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm
That's a mean titty twister, Max.
hawaiianlion15- January 1, 2013 at 5:31 am
That picture is from the first fight with KZ back in the WEC days, not the fight with Max.
FightZen- January 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm