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LFA champ Kevin Aguilar on how KO loss to Leonard Garcia helped change his game

As many fighters would agree, losses can often provide more valuable learning experiences than wins.

That certainly holds true for LFA champ Kevin Aguilar, who looks to defend his featherweight crown for the first time. Set to meet Justin Rader (7-2) in tonight’s LFA 18 headliner, Aguilar (12-1) brings in a four-fight winning streak that includes three finishes – capped off by the title-winning LFA 4 knockout of Damon Jackson in February.

While Aguilar has mostly been the one delivering knockouts, he was on the losing end of one in 2013 – when Leonard Garcia brought on his first  pro loss. At the time, it probably didn’t feel too good. But now Aguilar credits the since-retired Garcia – whom he’s even Facebook friends with – for helping him get to this point.

“Man, when I lost that fight and went back to the drawing board, I picked everything apart and timed up my hands,” Aguilar told AXS TV’s Ron Kruck ahead of the event at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Okla. “Because Leonard was a dangerous fighter, he has dangerous standup, and (he’s) known for his bloody wars.

“So I picked my standup apart and put it back together to make sure it was perfect, the most dangerous striking around now. That’s what I’m known for, for my striking. And I thank my boxing coach and Leonard for that.”

Aguilar, who was Legacy FC’s final champ before the promotion’s merger with RFA, has in “Darth” Rader a fellow Legacy FC vet who’s currently on a three-fight winning streak. Rader also happens to be a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Rafael Lovato Jr. and a world no-gi champion, as well as a lifelong wrestler.

Take these ingredients, and one would be quick to pin this matchup as a classic ground vs. standup showdown. But, as much as he does plan on keeping things standing, Aguilar said not so fast on that one.

“In the books, it looks like a classic striker vs. grappler,” Aguilar said. “But Radar has been knocking people out, standing up mostly. And I can be dangerous on the ground, as well. I’m not to be taken lightly on the ground.

“So it’s just going to be a mixed martial arts match – two guys, with two great skills. And we’re just going to see who’s going to come out on top.”

Regardless of who ends up successfully implementing his game, Aguilar has one basic prediction of how it’s going to go.

“It’s going to be a nice, bloody war,” Aguilar said. Just like I put them on.”

To hear from Aguilar, check out the video above.

And for more on LFA 18, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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