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Eric Peterson, Published April 30 2012

Garza back and fighting at UFC event


As he sat in the office at the Academy of Combat Arts, Pablo Garza broke down fight video of his next mixed martial arts opponent.

“It’s no different than a football team watching tape,” said Garza, who is set to fight Saturday in East Rutherford, N.J., as part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship on FOX 3. The UFC is considered the premier promotion company in mixed martial arts.

Coming off his first UFC loss, Garza – who went to high school in Grafton, N.D., and trains in Fargo – is taking a back-to-basics approach for Saturday’s preliminary bout against Dennis Bermudez. Garza’s fight will be aired on Fuel TV.

“That’s the mentality I’m doing for this fight,” Garza said. “I’m just going to go out there and win.”

That wasn’t necessarily Garza’s mindset heading into his last fight against top contender Dustin Poirier, who is slated to headline a UFC card later this month.

Garza came into that Poirier fight – which was part of UFC on FOX 1 – on the heels of consecutive wins which came in spectacular fashion. Garza stopped Yves Jabouin with a flying triangle choke and knocked out Fredson Paixao with a flying knee.

Both victories came in the first round. Garza’s fast rise through the UFC featherweight ranks was both good and bad.

“Everyone was kind of expecting something great, something spectacular,” said Garza who is 2-1 in the UFC and has an 11-2 overall mixed martial arts record. “Instead of fighting how I fight, I kind of let that get to my head.”

Poirier submitted Garza in the second round of their November fight, a victory that helped vault Poirier to main event status for a UFC on Fuel TV card.

“There was that instant success and I think when you get hit with that, you put pressure on yourself,” said Dylan Spicer, who is Garza’s coach. “That was probably kind of a factor going into the last fight a little bit. Now, Dustin is the main event on an upcoming card. That’s how close you can be to the top of the sport.”

Bermudez, who has a 7-3 mixed martial arts record, was a finalist on Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter 14.” Bermudez lost to Diego Brandao in the finale.

“He is a short, compact guy, really strong and explosive,” Garza said of Bermudez. “He’s a really good wrestler. He grinds on people.”

The 6-foot-1 Garza has a decided height edge versus the 5-6 Bermudez in a battle of 145-pounders.

Spicer has enjoyed watching Garza evolve as a fighter. Spicer has been in Garza’s corner for all but one of his fights, dating back to 2008.

“For his first fight, he probably made maybe 200 bucks,” Spicer said. “The journey has been pretty good so far. It’s fun watching people develop. It says a lot about the guys he trains with. … It’s kind of like I’m emotionally attached to him because I’ve been around him so much.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com