Winning is really important. It keeps getting shown again and again.
You can be a popular fighter, but if you string together one “L” after another, you are not going to stick around long in the UFC. Whether it's Keith Jardine, Houston Alexander, Efrain Escudero or Jason Miller, if you don't get enough wins, you are not going to be kept around.
Some fan favorites, like Dan Hardy, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Wanderlei Silva, get a bit of leeway in this. Leonard Garcia is among that lot, having acquired quite a following with his exciting, fan-pleasing fighting style (in 15 fights in the UFC and WEC, he has six Fight of the Night bonuses and one Knockout of the Night).
Still, sitting at 1-4 in his last five, with that one win being his very controversial split-decision victory over Nam Phan, there could be no question that Garcia's bout against Max Holloway was his last straw. Unless, of course, there was a controversial split decision.
That, obviously, is where we find ourselves now.
The fight itself was as exciting as one could have expected. Each round was wild, back-and-forth striking. Garcia threw his non-stop, looping haymakers. Holloway countered with his technically superior, pinpoint-accurate striking.
Garcia, for the first time ever, found himself on the bad end of a split decision. To the sound of some moderate booing, Garcia saw Holloway's hand raised. Rogan said the decision was controversial, and the numbers slapped up after the third round seemed to agree.
Personally, I wasn't especially surprised or dissatisfied with the decision. Garcia was the aggressor, no question, and he landed some good shots. Holloway, though, was far more accurate, and landed some excellent counters and probably landed more power shots throughout the fight.
So what, then, is next for Leonard Garcia?
Well, it ultimately comes down to what the fans (and Dana White) feel about the decision. If there is any real outcry in favor of Garcia, a rematch is almost a certainty.
Garcia is popular, and the fight was certainly exciting enough that few would complain about it happening again. It's a perfect fight to stick at the beginning of a main card, whether pay-per-view, Fox or FX. Additionally, a compelling bout to draw attention to a near-certain future title contender in Holloway is never a bad idea.
If, however, most fans agree with me, this could be the end of Leonard Garcia's UFC career. It seemed like that was the case back when Garcia lost to Matt Grice in June, and many found themselves scratching their heads when he was given another crack at it.
It becomes increasingly difficult to rationalize Garcia's continued presence, given his 6-9-1 record under the Zuffa umbrella.
If he does get booted, Garcia is unlikely to stay unemployed for long. You have to expect either the World Series of Fighting, or Bellator FC, to pounce on him immediately, given his fan-pleasing style and name recognition.
Either way, Garcia is nowhere near done fighting right now. It may be, though, that he is finally done fighting for the UFC.