In his drop back down to featherweight, Garcia (13-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC) battered Chase Hooper (11-3-1 MMA, 3-3 UFC) en route to a 92-second TKO finish.
“I just know how tough he is,” Garcia told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a post-fight news conference. “I’ve seen him fight after fight and I’m actually a fan of him. I saw him. He took a lot of shots, took a lot of damage. It doesn’t really phase him. I didn’t expect to go a first-round knockout finish, although I always think I’m going to knock everybody out.
“I think most of us do that, but realistically I thought it was going to be a 15-minute battle war and we were just going to go out there and pick each other apart and he was going to try to take me down and go after some leg locks or something. I’m blessed. God blessed me with this win. I’m here and I’m excited and happy we got the job done today.”
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Garcia, 30, bounced back after a 74-second knockout loss at UFC 275 in June. He revealed there were high stakes ahead of Saturday’s fight at the UFC Apex, as the bout was the final on his promotional contract. With a 1-2 record prior to the bout, it’s possible if not likely Garcia would be cut if he lost.
“To be honest, I just really had to sidetrack it, like, just come out here and win,” Garcia said. “If you think about that stuff, it can mess with your head. I don’t want to do that because it could damage my performance. I think I benefitted from that because we came out with the first-round victory with four knockdowns. I felt like we were able to execute the game plan like we were supposed to, just a lot quicker than I expected. Hopefully, I get a good contract after this. I have a good management team. I’m with Jason House, one of the best guys, and I think we can figure something out.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 213.