Photo by Nathan Denette, AP
On the heels of a "Knockout of the Night" performance in his UFC debut, "The Scarecrow" scored yet another bonus with a "Submission of the Night" against Yves Jabouin in the opening bout of the "St. Pierre vs. Shields" event back on April 30 in Toronto.
It was the stuff of legend.
Fighters usually only attempt flying triangles when they're screwing around with friends, but who would undertake such an endeavor on MMA's biggest stage in front of the largest crowd in North American history?
Someone who had nothing to lose, that's who.
In his pre-UFC 129 interview, the North Dakota native discussed overcoming past failures in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 12 and in his WEC debut against Zhang Tie Quan. That "going for broke" mentality was born out of necessity.
Garza initially wanted to stand and trade with Jabouin, but the Canadian striker repeatedly landed some sickening leg kicks that began to buckle his lanky frame.
The Academy of Combat Arts product latched onto Jabouin's head with a Muay Thai clinch and began throwing vicious knees into the striker's body. MMAmania's very own AintNoSunshine broke down the incredible flying triangle that happened next.
It's been several days later and he still can't believe his luck.
"It felt great, man," said an elated Garza. "It was something I never knew I could do. It was something I never expected to do in my life so it was amazing. (The biggest factor in attempting the submission was) his height, I'd done it before in jiu-jitsu tournaments. He was shorter so I knew I could get up there if I jumped. Also, when I was throwing knees, he had his arm down trying to block my knees so once I saw him do that, I went for it."
Went for it, indeed.
With his flashy finish, Garza netted a cool $129,000 in bonus money. Not bad for a guy who was likely taking home about $8,000 to show and win. The Fargo featherweight was very humble about his second consecutive victory in the Octagon but he definitely has put the 145-pound division on notice.
"I think I opened some eyes. Who knows? I still have a lot to prove in the UFC. I've only had two fights ... I am excited with the way my fights have gone. I feel blessed. I feel lucky."
Standing 6'1", the 27-year-old is one of the tallest featherweights in the world. While Garza's height definitely makes him a unique opponent to plan for, he feels there are multiple facets of his game that are equally dangerous.
"(My height) naturally gives me an advantage but I believe the biggest advantage I have is that I'm well-rounded. I'm not a jiu-jitsu ace and I'm not an awesome striker, I'm just well-rounded. I think that provides more of a disadvantage for my opponents."
Pablo is a key player of a division in flux.
Ever since the WEC's merger with the UFC, the smaller lightweights of the UFC no longer have to fear a drastic pay cut if they drop down to the more competitive featherweight division. Dustin Poirier already set a precedent by dropping down and taking out number one contender Josh Grispi in his 145-pound debut. "The Scarecrow" is bracing for big changes.
"I think the 145 division is extremely deep," said Garza. "There's so many good guys at 145 and from what I'm hearing, it's gonna get a lot deeper because Kenny Florian is dropping down to 145, Tyson Griffin is dropping down to 145. There's a lot of awesome fighters that can make 145 that were fighting at 155 and are going down. It's gonna be a really competitive division I think."
So what's next for Pablo Garza? The spindly striker is willing to get in the cage with whoever the Zuffa brass puts in front of him.
"Honestly, my goal is to just stay in the UFC and just keep performing. Whoever they ask me to fight, I'm fine. There's so much I need to work on and so many areas of my game I need to get better at. My goal is to just keep evolving as a fighter and keep my job in the UFC."
We certainly can't wait to see what he has in store for us next time.
Major thanks to Duane Finley for contributing to this article.