Steve Garcia will make his official UFC debut on Saturday after accepting a short-notice fight against Luis Pena in Norfolk, Virginia, the Rio Rancho MMA fighter confirmed on his Instagram account.
He’s moving up one weight class to get the opportunity.
Garcia (11-3), who trains in Albuquerque at Jackson-Wink, will step in at the lightweight limit of 155 pounds after Pena’s original opponent, Alex Munoz, withdrew due to injury. Pena (7-2) of Gilroy, California, is a career lightweight.
In October, Garcia defeated Desmond Torres by first-round TKO on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. But because Garcia failed to make the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds (plus an allowable one pound for non-title fights), he was not offered a UFC contract.
In August, Garcia defeated Jose Mariscal on an LFA card at Route 66 Casino Hotel in a featherweight (145-pound) fight. Garcia failed to make the featherweight limit for the fight.
He was scheduled to face Justin Gonzales on an LFA card in April before the UFC opportunity materialized.
The story was first reported by mmajunkie.com.
Saturday’s main event matches flyweights Joseph Benavidez (28-5), a Las Cruces High School graduate, against Brazil’s Deivison Figueredo (17-1) in a fight for the vacant UFC flyweight (125-pound) title.
The card will be streamed on espn+.