As with any successful professional, mixed martial artists eat, sleep and breathe their craft. They put everything on the line when they wake up, hit the gym and pour their blood, sweat and tears into the sport we all love. When they enter that cage, for the fan, it's all about the entertainment, but these athletes go through the daily rigors with more in mind. For some fighters, it's a paycheck. For others, it's the glitz and glamour, but for some it's a lifestyle fueled by a deep passion and connection to the sport of mixed martial arts.
In our newest site feature, MMAPlayground would like to introduce you to some of these men and women of MMA that you may not know much about.
Our mission? To introduce. To educate. To spread the word. Pablo “The Scarecrow” Garza is a WEC and UFC veteran who has fought in both the lightweight and featherweight divisions. He was the first featherweight, along with Fredson Paixao, to compete under the UFC banner. He is also the first fighter in UFC history to pull off a flying triangle submission. He’s a versatile fighter, a humble man, and a closet nerd.
Garza is scheduled to take on fellow UFC featherweight Dustin Poirier on November 12 on UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos.
* * * * *MMAPG:
Pablo, thanks so much for taking time to answer some questions. You’re scheduled to take on fellow featherweight Dustin Poirier at UFC on Fox 1. How are you feeling right now? How’s your training going?GARZA:
My training is going good and I’m feeling great!MMAPG:
You’re coming off two of the most spectacular finishes in the UFC in the past year. You’ve received submission of the night and knockout of the night in back-to-back fights. Which one did you find to be more rewarding?GARZA:
I think the flying triangle was more rewarding. Some people thought that I just got lucky in landing a flying knee against Paixao. A lot of people questioned whether I belonged in the UFC at all. So after I landed the flying triangle in UFC129, I felt like people finally saw that I actually hold my own in the UFC. MMAPG:
Where are you training right now, and who are you primary training partners?GARZA:
I’m training at my normal training camp which is the Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo, North Dakota. My main training coach is Dylan Spicer, who is one of Greg Nelson’s prodigies. But I'm also doing part of my training at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy in Minneapolis. Down there I get to train with the likes of other UFC guys such as Nick Lentz, Jacob Volkmann, Paul Bradley, and the master himself Greg Nelson.MMAPG:
Are flying triangles and flying knees things you guys work on regularly?GARZA:
We work on what feels right for my body to do. If I can replicate a move with great body mechanics then I'll adapt it to my arsenal. MMAPG:
For our readers, would you mind giving us a rundown of what a day in the life of Pablo Garza is like during training camp?GARZA:
First thing in the morning I head out to meet my strength and conditioning coach Zack Cahill for lifting. Then I head to work at the University of North Dakota. There I teach kick boxing and Muay Thai classes. After that I go do my own training, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Jits and then off to do some pad work with my coach.MMAPG:
I probably should have asked his earlier, but could you give our readers some background information? Where did you grow up, how did you get involved in MMA, etc?GARZA:
I was born in California and from there on out my family moved around a lot, from Texas to Iowa to Minnesota and North Dakota. My parents settled in a small town of about 5,000 called Grafton ND where I came to grow up in. I got started in MMA when I became interested in boxing. I tried getting some amateur boxing fights but nobody would fight me, so after a while I moved on to MMA and decided to try my luck in a professional fight. I won, and decided to do it again, I won the next fight and after that it just started snowballing. The rest is history. MMAPG:
This is a question I love asking fighters – If you could fight anybody, from any weight class, at any time in MMA history, who would it be, and why?GARZA:
I have two fighters actually. I would love to fight Kenny Florian and if I could make weight I’d love to fight Miguel Torres. Both really tough fighters who I believe I can hold my own against. Our styles mach up great and the fights would be fireworks all the way through!MMAPG:
Let’s take a step back from fighting, and talk about life.
Outside of the cage, and training, what are your hobbies or interests?GARZA:
Well I'm a college basketball player, turned college graduate turned personal trainer, turned Pro MMA fighter. I'm a huge gamer and closet nerd! Whenever I'm not training or hanging out with my wife I'm down in the man cave playing PS3! Usually playing Call of Duty or Dragon Age. And if I'm not gaming it up I'm usually watching science documentaries like Ancient Aliens, or watching shows like The Universe and Planet Earth. I'm totally into space, planets, black holes, wild life and nature! I got other hobbies like drawing. One of my biggest hobbies was martial arts, but I guess we can safely say that’s now my job.MMAPG:
Let’s say you weren’t a mixed martial artist, and you had the choice to do any job that you wanted, what would your absolute dream job be? Why?GARZA:
Man that’s a tough one! Like I said I watch a lot of space documentaries so I would love to be an Astronaut. Being in space would probably be one of the most surreal experiences ever! In the near future there's going to be a manned mission to Mars, so how awesome would it be to be the first human on another planet! Also when I was a kid I loved watching Animal Planet. I used to want to be that guy hiding in the bushes scoping a tiger in the wild or a pride of lions. MMAPG:
Do you have someone or something that inspires you on a daily basis to perform at your best?GARZA:
God, my family and my child hood. I grew up poor and everything I had I earned through hard work. My parents dropped out of high school for work, they worked for farmers just about all their lives. We would go out to their fields and hoe their fields to rid them of weeds. I started working in the fields when I was only in 4th or 5th grade to help out my family. I remember working 8 to 9 hour days all summer long. I hated that with a passion! I didn't want to live like that or for my kids to grow up that way so I made sure to go to college. And God, having faith kept me from giving up a lot of the time. When times were hard, my faith was a major help.MMAPG:
You have one blemish on your record in your professional career. How much would you like to avenge that loss to Tie Quan Zhang?GARZA:
It actually doesn't bother me at all. I feel that I have moved passed it and that I have proved I'm better than what that fight tells. I believe the fighters I have beaten lately are far better than him. That was my first fight in the big show with only 5 days notice. My head wasn't in it, and being in the spotlight for the first time was a huge psychological barrier for me. Since then I have become an all round better fighter.MMAPG:
Since your switch to featherweight, you seem unstoppable. Are you more comfortable at 145? What spurred the switch?GARZA:
The TUF 12 show did. After I fought on the show I realized that everyone else was just bigger than I was. I also knew that to make it to 145 wouldn't be that hard of a cut, so 45 is the best class for me.MMAPG:
One last question and I’ll let you get back to doing your thing. Does the word legacy mean much to you? Have you given thought about how you want people to remember you 8-10 years down the road?GARZA:
I can honestly say that I didn't intend to set a legacy in the UFC. But one thing for certain is that I was the first person in the 145 weight class to fight in UFC history, and also first 145er in the UFC to get a KO. I'm also the first person to have a flying triangle sub in the UFC! So I think I’ve made some type of a legacy and that’s probably what people will remember me by. From the "who is this kid"-kid to the "how did he do that"-kidMMAPG:
Thanks again, Pablo for lending some of your time to us. We appreciate the interview. Do you have any last words to share with our readers?GARZA:
Thank you for having. Thank God for all the success that I've had and all the great things he's allowed me to have, and thanks to my coach, teammates, wife and family for all the support.
* * * * *Follow @PabloGarzaMMA on TwitterPablo "The Scarecrow" Garza on Sherdog.com DISCLAIMER: Views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewer and interviewee and are not necessarily those of the staff or affiliates of MMAPlayground.com.