Prospect in the Spotlight (June 7-8): Rafa Garcia

Introduction

Friday, June 7th, Mexican lightweight prospect Rafa Garcia will be in action for Combate Americas, where he will be looking to continue his impressive streak as a professional. Garcia will be looking to score yet another win, as he inches closer to potentially earning a UFC contract or a Combate title shot. Garcia represents Team Punisher, a camp out of his native country. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Ground: Watch any one of Garcia’s fights and you’ll notice he loves getting the action to the ground. His wrestling is average, but definitely serviceable given his physical strength. At the next level, he may struggle a bit to implement his game against guys with better wrestling credentials. His physical strength is also good for employing his submissions, especially chokes. On top, he is aggressive when looking for submissions. He has good transitions on the mat as well, as he can move positions well and look for fight ending tapouts.

Finisher: All but one of his fights are finishes, with his only decision being a close majority decision. Seven of his eight finishes are submissions, from armbars to rear-naked chokes to heel hooks. He’s diverse when finishing on the mat. He’s an aggressive man, and when he smells blood, he goes for the kill. On the feet, he does have good power in his hands, though striking is not exactly is go-to. When he connects with one of his massive power hooks, he can hurt you (see LaRue Burley).

Needs Improvement

Build: While Garcia is a strong, muscular guy, his build is not the biggest for a lightweight in terms of height and length. He’s a short, stocky sparkplug of a man. He has to work to get on the inside of his opponents due to his lack of arm length. When he does, he can eat shot coming in on entries. He may be too thick for featherweight, but it actually may be a better fit for him to size up better with opponents.

Bottom Game: While his top game on the mat is quite good, his bottom game could certainly use some work. He can give up more advantageous spots to opponents when they are on top, which puts him in trouble. Watch his fight against Chase Gibson (his only decision as a pro). His defense on the mat in the second round was almost what put him on the losing end. He gave up his back to Gibson trying to get off his back. Against a more seasoned, skilled fighter, that could have been an easy tapout loss for Garcia.

Outlook

UFC Curtain Jerker: Garcia is just 24 years old, so the future is bright for this young fighter. With UFC veteran Estevan Payan currently on his plate and the UFC returning to Mexico in a few months, there is no doubt this is an audition fight that could net Garcia a contract with the world’s biggest MMA promotion. Beating Payan would prove that Garcia can beat UFC-level fighters. It would potentially make him a top lightweight target in the free agency market. Garcia definitely has the potential and excitement to run with the UFC. He may never be a title challenger, but he’ll definitely be a guy that opens shows in exciting fashion and looks to net bonus checks with his performances. I would be shocked if he’s not in a UFC Reebok kit by year’s end.

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