Photo by Josh Hedges via Getty Images
Hell, that one will be a contender for Fight of the Year.
Garcia originally skated by with an extremely controversial split decision victory at The Ultimate Fighter 12 finale in a fight that media and fans alike believed Phan had won easily.
So how did Phan bounce back and get the judges to side in his favor this time? And what did Leonard Garcia do to make things incredibly interesting yet again?
Phan was the more accurate fighter the first time these two men fought. This time, not only was he more accurate, but he was more aggressive and threw more strikes. Phan got in Garcia's face and repeatedly beat him to the punch with crisper, more technical combinations and finished them off beautifully with powerful left hooks to the liver.
Notice here how Phan aggressively come in and varies his attack. He's not simply wining bombs like Garcia, he's throwing combinations to the head, to the body and he's keeping "Bad Boy" guessing.
To his credit, Garcia responds with a nice knee in the clinch but that's not until eating about seven or eight strikes from the aggressive attacking Phan.
Phan didn't want to screw around last night, he was out for blood and he did not want this fight to go to the judges. He said as much in his interview with MMAmania.
With Garcia's insistence on throwing nothing but bombs, Phan was able to get out to a strong lead on the scorecards, clearly winning the first and second rounds, not only being significantly more accurate but also throwing more strikes this time around.
Everything was going perfectly according to plan, that was, until Garcia actually came out with some technique in the beginning of the third round.
Garcia, with his face busted up from Phan's technical prowess, finally found a home for that winging haymaker of a left hook he'd been throwing all night and it landed directly on Phan's chin.
It didn't knock him out, but it definitely knocked him on his ass and completely turned the tide in the third round into his favor.
Phan was still woozy when he got to his feet and Garcia swarmed him along the fence, unloading with big hooks that rattled Phan back and forth along the fence.
Garcia had his chance to finish the fight but Phan endured and survived until the end of the round, where he was awarded a unanimous decision for his cumulative performance in the first two rounds. An elated Phan dropped to his knees and screamed in victory, one he had rightfully earned.
For Leonard Garcia, it took him two rounds, but he finally woke up and threw with some technique. It's too bad he let Phan tee off on him for the first 10 minutes or this fight would have been even closer than it was. As it stands, with the way he fights, he's always going to be a crowd pleaser, win or lose. Everyone gave this fight a standing ovation and it will almost be a certainty that Garcia gets to keep his job for another day despite currently holding a 2-4 record in the UFC.
Garcia will likely square off against someone like Jonathan Brookins, Zhang Tiequan or Rani Yahya in his next bout. Regardless of who his opponent is, expect another thriller. Ignore the fact that the judges tend to side in his favor, he puts on entertaining fights every time out.
For Nam Phan, he's got to be feeling some relief to finally get a victory in his third UFC fight. He'd put up back-to-back gutsy performances and had nothing to show for it until last night. He let off the gas pedal in the third round and allowed Garcia to get back into the fight, but he'd done enough in the first two to ensure a decision victory. Phan has a ton of experience and his combinations were fantastic last night. He truly was at the top of his game, at least for the first two rounds.
Expect Phan to fight someone like Cub Swanson, Javier Vazquez or Robert Peralta in his next bout. He's still got a long way to go before he's even considered a contender, but last night's fight was a terrific start for him.
So what did you think Maniacs?
Was this bout well-deserving of the "Fight of the Night" bonus? Were you happy to finally see Garcia on the losing end of a decision? How impressed were you with both fighters' performances?
All gifs by Zombie Prophet via IronForgesIron.com.