By U of MMA Staff
Photos by Sam LaFoca and Jeffrey Hitchens
Of the three University of MMA events in 2011, only one fighter, Georgie Garcia has competed on every card. Still undefeated, post-fight interviewer Dawna Gonzales dubbed him the “Golden Boy of the U.” As such, it seemed appropriate that ‘Gorgeous Georgie’ Garcia be the first entry in our Fighter of the Month column.
At the U’s inaugural I Will Be Victorious!, Garcia went three rounds with Arash Nadershahi to a unanimous decision win. In July, Garcia clawed his way to a split decision over Mike Reyes in a very compelling main event. At September’s Salute to Service, Garcia got his first early finish, putting away Daniel Garcia in round two via ground and pound TKO.
Although a natural bantamweight, Garcia fights between 135 to 145 lbs., and is a blue belt under 10th Planet Van Nuys head trainer ‘Coach Alder’ Hampel. For his striking, ‘Gorgeous Georgie’ trains at Saekson’s Muay Thai.
An energetic young man with a penchant for street fights, Garcia’s parents directed him towards martial arts as an outlet for pent-up aggression. He started training in Kempo-Shotokan karate at a young age, under the tutelage of Alfred ‘Smidget’ Urquidez, where he eventually became an assistant instructor.
Garcia furthered his love for one-on-one competition in high school by joining the wrestling team, during which time he earned the Los Angeles sectional championship and qualified for the California state tournament.
Whereas MMA for a previous generation of fighters was more often something that wayward young men found as an opportunity to earn money and stay out of jail, for Garcia, caged combat was a predetermined destination.
“I had a couple buddies who were a little bit older than me, so once they graduated, they started getting into MMA. That’s when it started getting big. You got Rampage Jackson, Randy Couture, all those names started coming out. I just wanted to focus on wrestling before I started any other combat sport. I told my buddies ‘when I get out of high school, let me in on this. Let me train with you guys’.”
After high school, knowing he needed an established gym where he could get a firmer grasp on the fundamentals, Garcia followed a friend to 10th Planet Burbank.
“On the first day, I met Chuck Liddell. It was perfect timing. If getting introduced to jiu jitsu and meeting Chuck Liddell on the same day doesn’t get you hooked, I don’t know what does. . . Ever since then, I’ve been with [Coach] Alder,” he lamented.
“When I first met him, he was real quiet,” lamented Coach Alder. “You could tell he came from a wrestling background, where the coach was in charge. He was real respectful. He wasn’t chatty in class. I respected that.”
Although the Garcia-Hampel team dates back only to mid-2010, the ties that bind go beyond work in the gym or success in the cage.
“With Alder, it’s like family,” explained Garcia. “We hang out on the weekends. After fights or grappling tournaments, we’ll go out to eat or something. We’ll go find a bar or restaurant to watch the fights. It’s not like ‘I’m your coach and that’s it. And the boundary stops right there.’ He’s more than your coach.”
Among his teammates and friends, Garcia’s reputation as a gym rat is undeniable, to the point that he’s frequently among the first to arrive and the last to leave.
According to Coach Alder, “I’ve always heard about that guy. Like, ‘ah yeah, yeah. Whatever.’ You gotta lock him out. But actually, physically, sometimes, you gotta be like ‘hey Georgie, its time to go home now.’ He pretty much lives at the gym.”
But Garcia’s immersion is intentional. He stays in fight-ready shape knowing that “the big opportunity,” to take that showcase fight and make a name for himself on a larger stage, could come at a moment’s notice. Moreover, he believes the habit of always being ready to fight demonstrates his commitment and desire to succeed.
“I look at it as a job. You’re always ready for your job. That’s what you go to school for, that’s what you train for. I feel like fighting is like my job. So I always want to be ready just in case I get that last-minute call.
To succeed in wrestling takes more drive than other sports, and it can be difficult to turn that drive off. As such, Coach Alder’s theory is that Garcia’s restless drive is fueled by a need to compete, and a sense of unfinished business.
“After high school, Georgie didn’t have anything to do, but he still had that competitive drive left in him. . . It wasn’t like he had been wrestling since five and pretty much learned a lot of what he was going to learn already. He still had growing to do, and he still wanted more,” he explained.
For Garcia, one of the most important elements to MMA is its individuality, where success or failure is controlled by a single person’s effort in training and will to win. As an only child, Garcia is naturally self-reliant, feeling more comfortable to accept full responsibility for his own wins and losses, rather than sharing them with others.
“Its not like football or basketball. There’s nobody to help you out. And if you win, it’s because of you. If you lose, it’s because of you. You trained as hard as you wanted to.”
Aside from fighting, Garcia recently graduated from ITT Technical Institute with a degree in drafting and design for engineering.
“If [MMA fighting] doesn’t work out, that’s what I could do. Even if it does work out, I can’t fight for the rest of my life . . . I’ve got my degree to fall back on. But so far, I’m not looking towards falling on that degree anytime soon.”
‘Gorgeous’ Georgie Garcia fights for 10th Planet Van Nuys / Saekson’s Muay Thai, and is sponsored by Crossfit Synapse and Nemesis Clothing Line.