Combat sports notes: MMA fighter Garcia has come – and gone – a long way

Lots of talkative combat sports athletes who talked about having their opponent for lunch.

Brunch, anyone?

When Albuquerque MMA lightweight Steve Garcia steps into the UFC octagon with China’s Hayisaer Maheshate, local time in Singapore will be – plus or minus – 9am Sunday. In Albuquerque, it’s 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

Fighting jet lag is one thing; fighting Maheshate is another. But, for Garcia, not known as a talker, there’s more.

There is the exotic location of Singapore; Garcia (12-4) will fight for the first time outside of the United States.

“Singapore is awesome,” he said. “I never dreamed of coming to Singapore, especially to compete here.”

There’s the sizzle of the Saturday/Sunday card, featuring two UFC title fights and a highly anticipated rematch from two former UFC champions.

And there is the much more prosaic, but still vitally important, task of reducing the weight to the required 156 pounds.

(Mission accomplished; Garcia and Maheshate each weighed 155.5 pounds.)

For all of the above, Garcia said from Singapore in a phone interview, no problem.

Nothing distracted him or will distract him.

“This (MMA) is my only job now,” he said. “This is how I feed my family (wife Mariah, daughter-in-law Haylee, 9, son Terek, just turned 2).”

That’s not to say that Garcia, in the company of his father and bodybuilding coach, Steve Sr., didn’t enjoy Singapore.

“We were able to at least go and see something every day,” said Garcia, who left Albuquerque on Sunday and arrived in Singapore at 10 a.m. local time on Tuesday. “We did a bit of sightseeing, (but) made sure to do our workouts.”

As for the hype around UFC 275, he also takes that into account.

“I’m just a kid from Albuquerque who came out of a small area, and now I’m on the biggest stage, fighting alongside big champions. So man, that’s great. I have come a long way.

Before leaving Albuquerque, Garcia spoke with Jackson-Wink teammate Holly Holm about how to handle crossing 14 time zones. Holm, having fought in Australia and the United Arab Emirates as well as Singapore, is a veteran of that sort of thing.

Above all, he said, Holm advised, “Stay awake all the time (on the plane). Don’t sleep on the plane; to be avoided at all costs. »

Garcia confessed he fell asleep just before the plane landed in Singapore, but is confident no harm was done.

“You’ll be all screwed up when you come back,” he said, “But when you’re here, you’ll do your job.”

And, oh yes, there is his opponent.

Maheshate (6-1) secured his UFC contract in November with a unanimous decision victory over Achilles Estremadura in Dana White’s Tuesday Contender Series.

After being beaten by Estremadura in the first round, Maheshate came back to win the second and dominate the third, finding favor with UFC President White. He is the first Chinese fighter to earn a UFC contract through the Contender Series.

Garcia is 1-1 in UFC competition, losing his debut to Luis Peña via unanimous decision in February 2020, then defeating Charlie Ontiveros by second-round TKO (ground and pound) last October.

As motivated as he expects Maheshate to be, Garcia said he’s ready to see that motivation and increase it.

“It’s his first UFC fight, and he doesn’t want to look bad or anything like that,” Garcia said. “…I know what’s going on in his head, and he’s not just going to fold for me.” He will definitely fight.

THE HALL FOR HOLM: Holm, a former UFC champion, excelled as a boxer before switching to full-time MMA in 2013.

For going 33-2-3 as a boxer, winning multiple world titles in three weight classes, Holm will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday. She’s in Canastota, New York, for the ceremonies.

Holm’s induction, along with the rest of the Class of 2022, was announced in December.

GOLDEN GLOVES: The 2022 New Mexico Golden Gloves Amateur Boxing Championships are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Belen Community Center, 305 Eagle Lane.

The first bell on Saturday is at 2 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 5-17, $7 for veterans and seniors. Tables for six in the mezzanine are available for $125.