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Eric Peterson, Published April 03 2013

Fargo MMA fighter heads to Sweden for weekend UFC match

Fargo - Pablo Garza thinks he’s going to feel at home even though he’s fighting in Europe. The mixed martial artist, who trains out of Fargo, is slated to fight Saturday in Sweden.

“I’m excited to maybe have some people cheering for me for once,” Garza said with a laugh. “I’m looking forward to maybe having some cheers for me in Europe.”

Garza is part of the UFC on Fuel TV 9 event, which is being held at Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. Garza is part of the main card and is scheduled to fight Diego Brandao in a featherweight bout.

“He’s an exciting fighter as well, and I believe I’m an exciting fighter, too,” Garza said. “It’s going to be one of the better fights to watch on the card I believe.”

Garza said he’s excited to fight in Europe for the first time because his wife is Norwegian born and raised.

Some of his in-laws are expected to be at the fight. Garza said he has been able to connect with European fans through social media, even though he has yet to have a fight on European soil.

“I think that has allowed me to have a pretty good European fan base,” Garza said.

Both Garza (13-3) and Brandao (20-8) are coming off victories. Garza earned a unanimous decision against Mark Hominick at UFC 154 last November.

Brandao defeated Joey Gambino by unanimous decision at UFC 153 last October. In 2011, Brandao was the featherweight winner on The Ultimate Fighter 14, a reality TV series on Spike. Brandao beat Dennis Bermudez via submission in the show’s finale. Garza has also fought Bermudez.

Bermudez beat Garza via unanimous decision at UFC on Fox 3 last May.

Garza said it’s critical for him to string together victories to maintain his spot in the UFC.

“This fight is definitely big for me. Just because I won my last one, I don’t feel like I’m secure at my spot,” Garza said. “A lot of people lately have been getting cut from the UFC, so I feel like I definitely have to perform.”

Garza did a portion of his training for this fight at American Top Team in Florida. While Garza’s home gym is Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo, he thinks it helps to be able to train with other gyms.

“It gives me different looks,” Garza said. “I come from a small gym. I kind of get used to training with the same guys. … They (Top Team) have so many fighters there and so many people that are good at so many things. That definitely helps out my game.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com