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Leonard Garcia Talks Decision Win, Responds to Joe Rogan's Criticism

Shortly after winning a controversial split decision victory over Nam Phan at the TUF 12 Finale, Leonard Garcia sat down with Phan to watch the fight at the 24/7 Café inside the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. It was an amicable, if unlikely little viewing party, but afterward Garcia said he arrived at a firm conclusion about the scoring in the fight.

He's watched the bout approximately 15 times since then, he told MMA Fighting, and his thoughts on it are the same each time.

"I think I outscored him in the first and third rounds," said Garcia. "I think that in the third round, I was dead tired, but I kept firing and kept pressing the action, and I was able to get a takedown as well."

Though judges Adelaide Byrd and Tony Weeks agreed, giving Garcia the first and third rounds even as judge Junichiro Kamijo gave every round to Phan, the fans in attendance at the Pearl at the Palms voiced their displeasure loudly and thoroughly. Even UFC color commentator Joe Rogan went to great lengths to express his disapproval, which bothered Garcia more than he initially let on.

"It does piss me off, because I have nothing to do with the decision. I have nothing to do with that. The only thing I can control is what I do in the fight. Dead tired, most people, they have that thing in their bodies that tells them, 'I'm too tired, so I'm just going to give up.' I don't have that. I go in there and I'm still trying to end the fight in the third round. So it does, it bothers me to hear him say some of that stuff he said. It's kind of a bad deal, but all it's going to do is fire me up for the next one."

Even earlier in the bout Rogan described Garcia's punching technique as a style more suited to "throwing rocks." Garcia's had plenty of opportunity to dwell on that criticism, he said, but still isn't sure what to do with it.

"He talks about certain things that I do in the fight, but that's just my fighting style. I don't fight Joe Rogan's fighting style. I apologize to Joe Rogan, but I can't fight his style. That's not my style of fighting. What makes me who I am is my style of fighting, and people seem to enjoy it. I've won several Fight of the Night [bonuses] because of it, and I enjoy fighting that way. I think it's something the fans deserve, is to see two guys give it their all. And that's one thing I know about myself is I go out there and give it my all."

Garcia said many people fail to realize that he took the bout on short notice after a couple weeks of relative inactivity following his decision loss to Mark Hominick in September. Even after agreeing to a bout on the TUF 12 Finale, Garcia pointed out, he had his opponent changed from Tyler Toner to Nam Phan less than two weeks before the fight.

"When I take these short-notice fights, we have no time to work on technique, no time to work on anything I need to improve on," said Garcia. "All we have to time to do is get in there, do some conditioning stuff, and learn a couple little things about the opponent. And my opponent changed twice in 3 ½ weeks. It wasn't like I had a lot of time to key in on Nam Phan or Tyler Toner. Everything was up in the air."

The net result, said Garcia, was that he showed up slightly out of shape and without a solid game plan, which is why even some of his teammates had advised him against accepting the fight.

"Even [Donald] "Cowboy" [Cerrone] told me, 'Man, you're nuts. You don't even know who you're fighting in a week and a half.' And this is Cowboy! He's one of the craziest people I know. But he was like, 'If you don't know who you're going to fight, what are we going to do? What's the game plan?' I told him we'd find out when we see the guy, but he pointed out that by then I'd be cutting weight already."

After the second round, Garcia said, he returned to his corner completely exhausted and angry at himself for running out of gas so soon.

"I was so mad at myself because of how fatigued I was," he said. "I went and sat down at the end of the second and I was cussing to myself."

By the time the decision was announced and the fans in the arena showered him with boos, Garcia said he'd already resolved never to allow himself to repeat the mistakes that led him to this point, even if it means disappointing the UFC brass.

"I did feel bad for the fans, because I got tired. I feel like I'm ripping you guys off whenever I get tired. But I made it clear to [UFC president] Dana [White] – he was actually really happy with me after the fight and said, 'Welcome back to the UFC, we're glad to have you back and here's your bonus' – but I told him, I'm not going to take any more of these short-notice fights. I'm not going to do that to myself anymore. ...It doesn't suit my best interests, and it doesn't make for a long career. I'm just not going to do it anymore."

As for Phan, Garcia said he'll "gladly" give the TUF 12 contestant a rematch. In fact, he's already asked UFC officials about the possibility of setting that fight up in the near future.

"I've made it real clear to them that that's a fight I'm 100% interested in right now. That's all I can do. I can ask for it and keep asking for it, and every interview I do I'm telling people that I want that rematch, so I'm doing my part. He deserves to fight the best Leonard Garcia, and he didn't get the best Leonard Garcia that night. He got an out-of-shape, 3 ½ weeks notice Leonard Garcia. ...I feel like he deserves a rematch and I deserve to have a full camp to fight him."

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