If Alex Garcia‘s parents would have had their way, “The Dominican Nightmare” would be terrorizing Major League Baseball pitchers rather than Canadian welterweights. As it stands, he’s got his eyes on the UFC.
“In the Dominican Republic, we play a lot of baseball,” Garcia told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I played outfield, but I never liked it. I was forced to play by my parents.
“It’s serious down there. When you’re a kid, the first thing they give you is a glove, a ball and a baseball bat.”
Garcia (8-1) grew up in the Dominican Republic, an island nation of less than 10 million people that bats well above its weight in terms of producing professional baseball players. Garcia played along, but when he was finally old enough to make his own decisions, he gravitated toward jiu-jitsu.
That ignited a passion that drove him to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.
“I started training, and I liked it, so I decided to become a fighter,” Garcia said. “I didn’t go amateur. I turned pro right away.”
It was 2009 when Garcia made his professional debut, and he instantly knew it would provide his future. Hoping to look for better training opportunities, he packed up and moved to Canada.
“I wanted to become better at my sport,” Garcia said.
Just three months after relocating to the Great White North, Garcia caught a tremendous break. Training in a few local clubs, Garcia was at wrestling practice when UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre stopped by the class. An invitation to join him at Montreal’s famed Tristar Gym followed.
“He was fighting Thiago Alves at that time,” Garcia recalled. “He brought me to Tristar, and he’s been helping me a lot.”
The results have been evident in the cage. The 25-year-old Garcia is 8-1 in his first nine career fights, and seven of those wins have been courtesy of first-round stoppages. The lone setback came in an April 2011 bout with Seth Baczynski, and “The Polish Pistola” fought his next fight in the UFC’s octagon.
“I think it’s one of the best things that happened to me, that loss,” Garcia said. “I learned exactly what I needed to do in my fighting game and other things I needed to work on – my striking, controlling the pace. It’s not a streetfight. It’s professional fighting.”
Garcia has since bounced back with a pair of first-round victories. A knee surgery limited him to just one fight in 2012, but now he’s back to full strength and looking to make waves.
He competes again on Saturday, when he meets undefeated prospect Ryan Dickson (5-0) on the main card of Challenge MMA 1, which takes place at Colisée Isabelle-Brasseur in Saint-Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec, Canada.
Garcia admits he’s considering what could potentially lie ahead for him with a win, but he’s also intent on not losing focus on the immediate task at hand. After all, if he gave up his parents’ dream in order to chase his own, Garcia knows he needs to do whatever it takes to deliver.
“I don’t know, I just see myself fighting in the UFC,” Garcia said. “If it’s after this next fight, great, but if not, I’ll just keeping fighting outside of the UFC, getting better and kicking some ass.
“First I have to get past my opponent on Saturday, and then we’ll see what the UFC thinks.”
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