Nam Phan Looking For Love

March 7, 2011

He gets his rematch on with Leonard Garcia March 26. What's going to change for the hard luck semifinalist from The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck?

There was much to be said when Leonard Garcia was announced as the winner against Nam Phan at The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs Team Koscheck Finale, but the Vietnamese-American fighter offered his own take on the controversy.

“Asian brother can’t get no love, man!” Phan told Joe Rogan in a post-fight interview.

It was an instantly memorable assessment, and one that came to mind when Season 11 alum Nick Ring was awarded a unanimous decision victory over Riki Fukuda at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia.

“Asian brother Riki Fukuda can’t get no love!” Phan said. “What the heck was that?”

Of course, both men got “love” from the UFC fans who booed the decisions. But for now, Phan is the only one who has a chance to make it right in the Octagon. A rematch between Phan and Garcia is scheduled for Saturday, March 27, LIVE on Spike, at UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis

“I’m excited,” Phan said. “I’m ready to get to it.”

While the need for a rematch was established almost immediately following the announcement of the decision at the Season 12 season finale, Phan insists that what happened in December at the Pearl at the Palms – not to mention Garcia’s insistence that he won – has had little to no impact on his approach to the fight.

“It hasn’t affected anything, really,” Phan said. “I just approach this fight as another fight. The pressure’s not on me. The pressure’s on him. I think he has more to prove. ”

Short of getting a stoppage, Phan fought about as well as could be expected against the “Bad Boy,” so it would be natural to expect that Phan would do everything in his power to finish Garcia this time around.

Of course, that’s always the case.

“People say, ‘Next time, knock him out,’” Phan said. “As a fighter, we never want to leave it in the hands of the judges. We always want to finish. I try to finish, and I do the best I can, but it’s easier said than done. I’ll do the best I can to finish Leonard Garcia, but he’s a tough guy. It’s not that easy.”

The reprise of the first live televised featherweight bout in UFC history comes at a very exciting time for the 145-pound division, as featherweights (and bantamweights) have been invited for the first time to try out for The Ultimate Fighter, and will descend on the Marriott in Newark, New Jersey. on Monday, March 21 to try out for their shot at a six-figure UFC contract.

“I’m very happy,” Phan said. “For a time, I thought that would never happen. It’s very exciting to see other fighters of a smaller stature, physically, get an opportunity to show their talent.”

Given how well Phan handled himself at 155 pounds, making the semifinals before losing a close decision to Michael Johnson, Nam may well have been unstoppable on TUF at 145 pounds. At the same time, he has no regrets about mixing it up with the slightly heavier lightweights to get his shot in the UFC.

“I think everything happens for a reason,” Phan said. “I’m fighting in the UFC. I was in the first [UFC] featherweight TV fight. I have no regrets about going on the show at that moment.”

And now, at UFC Fight Night, he’ll look to get the win that most observers feel he should have already.

Will he get it? How do you see the second meeting between Nam Phan and Leonard Garcia shaping up? Do you think Nam would have been a shoo-in to win a featherweight tournament on TUF? Leave your thoughts below, and keep coming back to for more on UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis, LIVE from Key Arena in Seattle on Saturday, November 27 at 9PM ET/6 PM PT on Spike!

Photo: Josh Hedges / UFC / Getty Images