I know what’s going on in his head, and he’s not just gonna lay down for me. He’s definitely gonna put up a fight — Steve Garcia
Many’s the trash-talking combat-sports athlete who’s talked about having his/her opponent for lunch.
When Albuquerque MMA lightweight Steve Garcia steps into the UFC octagon with China’s Hayisaer Maheshate, the local time in Singapore will be – give or take – 9 a.m. on Sunday. In Albuquerque, that’s 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Fighting jet lag is one thing; fighting Maheshate is another. But, for Garcia, not known as a trash talker, there’s more.
There’s the exotic locale of Singapore; Garcia (12-4) will be fighting outside of the United States for the first time.
“Singapore’s awesome,” he said. “I’ve never dreamt of coming to Singapore, especially competing here.”
And there’s the far more prosaic, but still vitally important, task of cutting weight to the required 156 pounds.
(Mission accomplished; Garcia and Maheshate each weighed in at 155.5 pounds.)
To all the above, Garcia said from Singapore in a phone interview, no problem.
Nothing has, or will, distract him.
“This (MMA) is my only job now,” he said. “This is how I feed my family (wife Mariah, stepdaughter Haylee, 9, son Terek, just turned 2).”
“We’ve been able to at least go see something every single day,” said Garcia, who left Albuquerque on Sunday and arrived in Singapore at 10 a.m. local time on Tuesday. “We’ve been sightseeing a little bit, (but) making sure we get our workouts in.”
As for the hype surrounding UFC 275, he’s taking that in, as well.
“I’m just an Albuquerque kid that came out of a small area, and now I’m on the biggest stage, fighting alongside some great champions. So, man, it’s awesome. I’ve come a long way.”
Before leaving Albuquerque, Garcia spoke with Holly Holm, his Jackson-Wink teammate, about how to deal with crossing 14 time zones. Holm, having fought in Australia and the United Arab Emirates as well as in Singapore, is a veteran of such things.
Above at all, he said Holm advised, “Stay awake the whole time (on the plane). Do not sleep on the plane; avoid it at all costs.”
“You’ll be all messed up when you come back,” he said, “But when you’re here you’ll do your job.”
And, oh yes, there’s his opponent.
Maheshate (6-1) earned his UFC contract in November with a victory by unanimous decision over Achilles Estremadura on Dana White’s Tuesday Contender Series.
After taking a pounding from Estremadura in the first round, Maheshate came back to win the second and dominate the third, finding favor with UFC President White. He’s 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 by unanimous decision in February 2020, then defeating Charlie Ontiveros by second-round TKO (ground-and-pound) last October.
“This is 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 gonna lay down for me. He’s definitely gonna put up a fight.”