Leonard Garcia will make history on Dec. 4 when he and Tyler Toner compete on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 12 Finale in the promotion's first-ever featherweight match-up.
This is the result of the announcement made last Thursday (Oct. 28) of a pending WEC-UFC merger.
The contest will be Garcia's first under the UFC banner since September 2007 when he lost to Cole Miller by unanimous decision. The "Bad Boy" will get a chance to redeem himself with a win over Toner, which would put his Octagon record at an even 2-2.
And while the pay may not increase by much, Garcia is more than happy to make his return to the world's largest fight promotion and make a run at the UFC featherweight title.
With a fresh start in the UFC and more exposure than ever before, you won't hear Garcia complaining about the merger. In fact, the featherweight hopeful is excited about the upcoming transition.
Before he makes history, Garcia took the time to talk with the MMAmania.com fans about the merger, contracts and his opponent on Dec. 4.
Check it out.
Detroit Drew (MMAmania.com): Any thoughts on the WEC-UFC merger that you're willing to share?
Leonard Garcia: I love the idea. It means a comeback to the UFC for me.
Detroit Drew (MMAmania.com): Do you expect this to mean higher pay? Which UFC 155'ers do you think will drop down to 145 now?
Leonard Garcia: Higher pay as far as bonuses, yes, but our contracts will stay the same I think some will move up, others will move down, but nothing crazy. Not really a huge change just the name difference the UFC is more prestigious.
Detroit Drew (MMAmania.com): With your contracts staying the same, does that mean that on average, WEC fighters already made as much as UFC fighters (minus bonuses)? Or do you expect the lower divisions to make less than average? Do you expect the merger to make the 155-pound division the strongest and deepest in the UFC? Do you think the pending merger had a lot to do with Aldo turning down the Florian fight? It seems that the incentive for him to move up in weight is gone now with the merger. Which WEC fighter do you expect to have the most success at 155?
Leonard Garcia: I think we will make just as much as the big fighters now as long as we perform. I think it's definitely the reason Aldo isn't moving up, he still has a few great match-ups at 145! The 155 division is definitely getting deeper with the addition of Cowboy (Cerrone), (Anthony) Pettis, (Ben) Henderson ... it's gonna be fun to watch. I feel like those three will make the biggest impacts in the division.
Detroit Drew (MMAmania.com): You're going to be one of the first WEC fighters to fight on a UFC card after the merger announcement. What does it mean to you to be back in UFC and what are your thoughts about your opponent Tyler Toner?
Leonard Garcia: I'm excited to break the ice for the WEC guys. Although it's a comeback for me, it feels great, Tyler is a friend of mine and it's gonna be a tough fight.
Detroit Drew (MMAmania.com): Can you comment on the stigma the Jackson camp has received lately with the style of fights and gameplanning? You're the last guy who would be pegged as a "lay and prayer" and you're one of Jackson's most well-known fighters.
Leonard Garcia: Greg always makes us look for finishes. We do not lay and pray!
Leonard Garcia: I think the marketing for Cain was great. He's a great fighter and he's set the bar high for Hispanic fighters in 2011.
Detroit Drew (MMAmania.com): Are there any sponsors you would like to thank, or any shout-outs? Any fighters on the rise we should be aware of and keep our eyes on?
Leonard Garcia: Tapout, Hattsfield Gunsmithing, Team Jackson and most of all, God.
Detroit Drew (MMAmania.com): Thanks Leonard and good luck!
For more on the upcoming TUF 12 Finale click here.