UFC Vegas 33: Rafa Garcia ready to bounce back from debut loss

The Underground

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When Rafa Garcia signed with the UFC in March 2021, as an undefeated Combate Americas (now Combate Global) lightweight champion, expectations were high for the Mexican.

Rafa Garcia looks to rebound from a difficult UFC debut

His UFC debut didn’t go according to plan, however, as Garcia dropped a decision to talented six-fight UFC veteran Nasrat Haqparast, in a phenomenal fight that might have been an instance of too-much-too soon for an Octagon debutante.

Though the fight was billed as a striker versus grappler matchup, on account of Haqparast’s well-known striking abilities and the half-dozen submissions on Garcia’s record, fans tuned in and watched a firefight.

While Garcia was clearly outpointed, he wowed fans with his incessant forward pressure and willingness to trade blows throughout the fight.

At UFC Vegas 33, Garcia returns to the cage against Chris Gruetzemacher looking to respond to the first loss of his professional career, by securing his first UFC win.

Speaking to CagesidePress ahead of his fight with Gruetzemacher, Garcia noted that his UFC debut was affected by his short-notice weight cut.

“Cutting weight (in) four days is kind of hard. This one is going to be different,” Garcia said. “I got the notice three months ago, so it’s a full camp, my weight is good, everything’s good. I feel sharp already.”

Garcia aims to climb the UFC ladder like he did in Combate Americas

Garcia’s name, for years, was synonymous with that of Combate Global, an MMA promotion that bills itself as “the premier Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sports franchise.” After signing with the promotion in 2017, Garcia went 8-0, and won the inaugural lightweight title at Combate Americas 44.

In UFC Vegas 33 foe Gruetzemacher, he gets a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter Season 22. Since the show, Gruetzemacher has gone 2-3 in the UFC, facing the likes of Chas Skelly, Davi Ramos, Joe Lauzon, and Alexander Hernandez. Garcia isn’t looking past Gruetzemacher, but he has title aspirations in the UFC.

“I had to work my way up (in Combate Americas),” Garcia told Cageside Press, “so that’s what I’m going to do with the UFC too, try to work my way up, get a bunch of wins, get a bunch of finishes, and work up. My goal is always to be the champion and to be the best in the world, you’ve got to be in the best company in the world.”

For Garcia to replicate his championship status in the UFC, he has a long way to go. However, the “Gifted” finisher believes he is ready to make the climb, and fans are likely to be the real winners in seeing Garcia compete in the Octagon.

–Field Level Media

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