Leonard Garcia understands exactly what many mixed martial arts fans are thinking.
With so many fighters getting cut recently, why is he still around in the midst of a four-fight losing streak? The answer is pretty simple, actually.
While many fighters have been coasting to victories with gameplans and trying to limit risk, he's always been willing to jump face-first into serious confrontation, which has helped him take home six "Fight of the Night" bonuses in his Zuffa career.
But something has changed with Garcia. The fighter that used to ignore coach Greg Jackson during fights, the "Bad Boy" who forgot the gameplan the second he got hit in the face, has made a change of heart.
Four straight losses will do that to you.
The always-entertaining brawler spoke to MMAmania.com about going back to the fundamentals, trying to prove Dana White right for keeping him around and how any "Fight of the Year"-type bouts he has left in him in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like you have something to prove, to make it look like Dana White made the right decision to keep you on the roster after four straight losses?
Leonard Garcia: Yes, man. I feel like I have a debt to be repaid. They've seen the promise in each one of my fights up until now. I know that this is do or die for me. Either I go out there and perform and win, or I'm gone.
Leonard Garcia: Yeah, we're in a very similar situation. He was able to get out of his rough patch. I'm hoping to do the same.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've been reading about some of the changes you've been making. One of the most interesting was that you went back to the fundamentals with your MMA training. Can you go into detail on that?
Leonard Garcia: Absolutely. The Holloway camp was my comeback camp and I feel like I won that fight. I'm continued with all my classes, going back to the basics. It's funny because that original training camp started in preparation to fight Cody McKenzie so this is the just the carry-over and it's the same approach. I've had plenty of time to gameplan and get ready for him.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Focusing on the fundamentals is something people were calling for you to do for a pretty long time. Was that just a case o fyou being stubborn? Why didn't you do it earlier?
Leonard Garcia: You hit the nail on the head. One of the big changes for me lately was I turned to Christianity for the last 10 months. I found my inner peace. I'm a lot calmer and I'm a lot better guy to be around. It made me listen to what the coaches were saying to me and not just hear it in one ear and out the other. That's one thing that has helped me do. I've been listening a lot more and it's made me hungrier as a fighter and made me a lot of a smarter fighter.
All the best fighters are great athletes, but they still have the fundamentals down pat. Georges St. Pierre beats everyone with the basics. I got back in there, wore the white belt again in grappling. I went to striking classes again instead of just waiting around for sparring to start. I started throwing combinations and I feel so much better with everything and I'm just really excited for the opportunity to showcase all the things I've been working on. Cody is a great fighter, he's got that one amazing move but unfortunately for him, he's fighting me so that's that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Having those fundamentals is great but one of the things the fans have loved about you is your ability to have those knockdown drag-out brawls. How much of the old Leonard Garcia style is still going to remain as you try to mix in these more basic fundamentals?
Leonard Garcia: Yeah, my style is just not a boring style. When I go, when throw my jab, my cross, my combinations, my kicks, I throw them with everything I've got. I throw everything really, really hard. I don't have a first or a second gear. I go full blast and that's all I got. I will never have a boring fight. We've got guys like Frank Mir, Jon Jones and Carlos Condit and they stay after their class just to watch me spar because it's so much fun. I'm just trying to be cleaner, faster and a lot crisper with what I throw, but it'll still be hard.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Another thing people bring up is you've got the best gameplanner out there in Greg Jackson but it all goes out the window when you get punched in the face. Do you think your new mentality will allow you to stay more focused this time around?
Leonard Garcia: Yeah, I do. It started in my last fight a bit. I had a couple opportunities to go really crazy, but I felt like I kept it together pretty well and followed the gameplan more. I felt rewarded at the end. Coach Jackson was happy with me and Dana was happy with me in the back and Joe Silva was happy with me. At the end of the day, if your bosses are happy, that's all that matters.