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Published November 10, 2011, 04:07 PM

Grafton Native Pablo Garza Set For the Fight of His Life

Fargo - Pablo Garza never set out to become a mixed martial arts fighter. It just happened.

By: Eric Peterson, Forum Communications

Fargo - Pablo Garza never set out to become a mixed martial arts fighter. It just happened.

“I never even intended to become a fighter in the UFC,” said Garza, who fights for the Ultimate Fighting Championship promotion company.

“This was something like a hobby that I really liked, martial arts, another workout, and it just kind of snowballed.”

Garza, who trains in Fargo, has the biggest fight of his professional career Saturday. He is set to face Dustin Poirier in a featherweight (145 pounds) fight, a preliminary bout for the UFC on Fox 1 event.

The event is headlined by heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos and is UFC’s first event on the Fox network. UFC is considered the premier promotion in MMA.

“It’s the biggest fight of my career,” said Garza, who went to high school in Grafton, N.D. “I’ve been training really hard. A lot of people are saying this fight can mean the difference between being a contender in my weight class or just another guy that’s pretty good.”

Garza, who has an 11-1 overall mixed martial arts record, has won his first two UFC fights. Both ended in spectacular fashion.

Garza beat Brazilian Fredson Paixao with a flying knee knockout at The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale in December 2010 in Las Vegas. Garza used a flying triangle –where he jumped and wrapped his legs around his opponent’s neck and one arm – to submit Yves Jabouin at UFC 129, which was last April in Toronto.

Garza won knockout of the night and submission of the night in those fights, earning big cash bonuses. Garza received $129,000 for his “submission of the night” bonus vs. Jabouin.

“It’s not only inspiring for me, but I think it is for a lot of guys in the room because it’s a local,” said Dylan Spicer, Garza’s coach. “He’s homegrown and pretty much bred out from here. I think it offers sort of an opportunity to feel like they can achieve what he’s achieved.”

Spicer owns the Academy of Combat Arts where Garza trains. Garza lives in Fargo and teaches martial arts classes in Grand Forks at the University of North Dakota.

“He’s dedicated,” Spicer said. “He’s got the right mind. He’s got a really positive attitude about everything.”

Poirier (10-1, 2-0 UFC) beat Jason Young in June at UFC 131 and has won his last three fights.

“He’s a dangerous guy. He’s a really good striker,” said Garza, who is a UND graduate. “He’s somebody that I have to respect. When you’re in the UFC, no one is going to be an easy fight.”

Peterson is a reporter at the Forum in Fargo

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