WEC featherweight Leonard Garcia has had his share of ups and downs over the past few years. In April of 2007, he took on UFC lightweight Roger Huerta in a barnburner that eventually led to a photo of the fight, prominently featuring Huerta, being featured as the cover on an edition of Sports Illustrated.
After compiling a 1-2 record in the UFC, the Greg Jackson trained fighter dropped down to 145 lbs and began competing in the WEC. After winning his first two bouts, one of which was against veteran Jens Pulver, Garcia earned a title shot against then featherweight champion Mike Brown. He lost via first round submission after getting rocked by an early Brown right hand.
Garcia went on to split his next two bouts and then fought to a draw against George Roop. It was a bout many believed Garcia would easily win, but it didn’t turn out that way. He was given a shot at redemption just seven weeks later against WEC newcomer Chan Sung Jung, fondly known as “The Korean Zombie” for his ability to take a massive beating and keep moving forward. The two would meet in a bout televised on Spike TV that would serve as the lead-in to the first ever WEC pay-per-view.
What happened over the course of 15 minutes is something that will be talked about for years to come. The two waged a war that has been compared to the Forrest Griffin-Stephan Bonnar bout that took place on the initial Ultimate Fighter Finale back in 2005. Many people are saying the Garcia-Jung bout was the best fight they ever witnessed. Two of those people are UFC announcer Joe Rogan and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.
Heavy recently caught up with Garcia, who has had some time to reflect on the bout with “The Korean Zombie,” and what life has been like since that epic night.
Heavy MMA: Now that you have some time to let it soak in, what are your thoughts on your bout with Chan Sung Jung?
Leonard Garcia: I feel good about it. The press has died down a bit, but the fans are still really lively about the fight. I have had an opportunity to watch the fight a few times and it’s a lot of fun to watch. One of best things that was said came from Dana White. He told me that giving us the $65k bonus for the Fight of the Night was nothing compared to what we did for the company that night.
Heavy MMA: Have you had any time to think about what this bout has meant to the WEC and the sport of MMA?
Garcia: To have all of these fight fans and other fighters come up to me and say that this fight could go down as one of the best ever, that’s what makes all the hard work worth it. It’s a really big deal for me. I want to be one of those guys that people think back on and say he did something pretty magical. I still haven’t hit the prime of my career and I’m hoping that this is just the start for me.
Heavy MMA: At any time during the fight did you have any idea how special this bout was?
Garcia: There were a few moments when I was in there praying that he would finally go down! It was such an intense fight that every time I would get a little out of it the fans would bring me back in. At the time I had no idea how good of a fight it was. There were times when I was just trying to survive.
Heavy MMA: There has been talk of a rematch between the two of you. Do you know if this will be your next fight or if it will be something down the road?
Garcia: I feel like it would be best to do it immediately and strike while the iron is hot. I’m not using it as an excuse, but I feel as though if my hand hadn’t been broken I could have finished the fight. There was a little bit of hesitation, but it never crossed my mind not to use it. I’d like to see what the two of us could do with a full training camp. The sooner the better for me, I’d like to do it in August.