Prior to covid-19 being labeled a global pandemic and a resulting shutdown in businesses and professional sports, the LFA was able to hold their event on March 6 in Dallas, Texas. Bantamweight Fernie Garcia was amongst those who fought on the card.
For Garcia, being able to pick up a unanimous decision over Jay Viola at LFA 83 prior to the national shutdown represented the last bit of what was the normal in his fight career, compared to what it is now.
“I got really lucky and was able to fight right before stuff hit the fan,” Garcia told MMAWeekly.com. “The NBA was still going on; we still had sports; so it was pretty normal. We didn’t think about it until at all.
“Usually after a fight I take a week off and go on vacation or whatever; so I fought on that Friday and then went on vacation, and it wasn’t until (that next) Wednesday they cancelled the NBA, then (NCAA’s) March Madness, then MLB, and postponed hockey, and then people started getting it, so then we saw (how serious the situation was becoming).”
Things further hit home for Garcia when his MMA gym shut down followed by other standard gyms, making the business of staying in professional athletic shape more difficult.
“My head coach, Sayif (Saud), closed down Fortis MMA to everyone; professional fighters, UFC fighters, everyone,” said Garcia. “I figured I still had the (apartment) gym downstairs and I could work around that, but every day it got worse and worse.
“They closed down my apartment’s gym; they closed down every single gym, so it’s pretty crazy. I’m having to do workouts at the park, kind of sprints, but there’s only so much you can do.”
Having had a slow 2019, Garcia was planning on having a breakout year in 2020, but with the coronavirus pandemic, the year might not even come close to what he was hoping it would be.
“I came into 2020 knowing it was going to be my most active year,” Garcia said. “I was already talking to the LFA fighting in April or May and was even looking past that fight, thinking I would fight in May or June then get on the Contender Series.
“Ed (Soares) and Mark (Bieri) were really excited to have me back. We were already looking for an opponent in late April. I was going to have a month turnaround. We had pretty much planned my next two fights.”
While the immediate future is pretty much dictated by social distancing, Garcia feels like eventually fighters might be forced to get together on their own in order to maintain their skills so when the time does come to fight again they will be ready.
“Our head coach just said to lay low for now, so this week we’re laying low, but if this goes on a long run like how it’s predicted, we might start reaching out to each other and figuring out what we need to do,” said Garcia. “We’re going to train.
“I’ll do what I can and will control the controllable from here, and whenever their show is, I’ll definitely be ready for that.”