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Longtime MMA vet and fan favorite Leonard Garcia is calling an end to a 22-year combat sports career.
“Bad Boy” picked up a unanimous decision win over Joe Elmore in the main event of Friday’s Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 16 event, which streamed live on the BKTV App from Biloxi Civic Center in Biloxi, Miss.
Following an action-packed, five-round, bare-knuckle boxing affair, Garcia was awarded the win with scores of 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46.
Afterward, the 41-year-old Garcia confirmed it would be his final appearance.
“I still got a lot left in the tank,” Garcia said after the fight. “I’m still a legend. I still did everything I said I was going to do, but fighting a guy like Joe was something else. I learned a lot about myself, and I learned a lot about Joe. I got all the respect in the world for him, and I don’t take anything from him.
“I’ve got an important decision to make, and it’s a hard one. My deal with God was to be the No. 1 guy when I left. That’s why I took the fight with Joe Elmore. I wanted to prove to the world I was the No. 1 fighter at 165 when I retired.”
Garcia fought nine times under the UFC banner and took home an impressive four “Fight of the Night” bonuses, recording memorable scraps with the likes of Roger Huerta, Cole Miller and a two-fight series with Nam Phan. However, his name is also etched in the WEC history books, as well, competing on the organization’s very first card back in 2001 and returning to the promotion in 2008.
While he notched notable WEC stoppages over proven veterans like Jens Pulver and Hiroyuki Takaya, Garcia may very well be best remembered or his epic split-decision win over Chan Sung Jung at WEC 48 in what was widely regarded as the 2010 “Fight of the Year.”
Garcia’s MMA career ended in 2014 following a five-fight stint under the Legacy FC banner that saw him win the promotion’s featherweight title before suffering consecutive losses to current UFC fighters Damon Jackson and Daniel Pineda and electing to hang up the four-ounce gloves with a career record of 18-13-1.
Garcia ended up with a 2-1 mark for BKFC.
Fellow MMA notable Melvin Guillard was also in action at BKFC 16, suffering a controversial first-round TKO loss to Scott O’Shaughnessy.