Albuquerque MMA fighter Steve Garcia said in a pre-fight interview that he believed he had an edge in the striking department against Chase Hooper, his opponent Saturday on a UFC Fight Night Card in Las Vegas, Nevada.
That edge turned out to be a chasm. Garcia knocked Hooper down four times, then finished him with ground and pound, taking a victory by first-round TKO.
It was a much-needed win for Garcia (13-5), for whom this was the fourth fight of a four-fight contract, having lost two of the first three.
“Pressure, man,” he said in post-fight interviews. “It’s pressure financially, pressure of winning, making sure you have a job, have a good paycheck when you go home.”
It was Garcia’s first UFC fight at the featherweight limit of 145 pounds, having contested his first three at lightweight (155). The lower weight obviously suited him.
“Physically, I felt a whole lot more superior,” he said. “(Featherweight) is a good spot for me right now.”
Pre-UFC, Garcia competed mostly at 145 pounds but also at the 135-pound bantamweight limit.
Hooper, of Washington state, is 11-3-1.
MEANS LOSES SPLIT: Moriarty MMA welterweight Tim Means lost to Max Griffin by split decision in the co-main event of Saturday’s card.
Means is now 31-14-1 with one no contest. Griffin, of Sacramento, California, is 19-9.
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All three judges scored the first round for Griffin, who dropped Means with a right hand. Rounds two and three were close, but two judges favored Griffin in the second, giving him the edge on the scorecards: 30-27 and 29-28 for Griffin, 29-28 for Means.
Means appeared to have no complaint about the decision as Griffin’s hand was raised.
Griffin is now 2-0 vs. New Mexico fighters, having defeated Carlos Condit in the Albuquerquean’s final fight before announcing his retirement.