Leonard Garcia (center): Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Leonard Garcia won’t be returning to the UFC this year.
Sherdog.com has learned that the 31-year-old brawler has been forced out of his scheduled Dec. 4 featherweight bout with Tyler Toner at “The Ultimate Fighter 12” Finale at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas for undisclosed reasons.
Stepping in for Garcia on a week-and-a-half’s notice will be Team Quest product Ian "The Barn Owl" Loveland.
An IFL veteran, the 27-year-old Loveland has won six straight bouts dating back to October 2007, the last five of which have come by way of stoppage. That streak includes a fifth-round head kick knockout of UFC veteran Douglas Evans, in Evans’ Alaska stomping grounds this past January.
Toner, 27, tasted defeat for just the second time in his career at WEC 51 in September, dropping a unanimous decision to Brazilian Diego Nunes.
Following Zuffa’s decision to merge the WEC and UFC brands and import the bantamweight and featherweight divisions to the larger Octagon, the Dec. 4 bout was to be Garcia’s UFC return. The Greg Jackson-trained puncher fought for the UFC twice in 2007, going 0-2. The run included his memorable scrap with Roger Huerta at UFC 69 in Houston, Texas, which ended up on the May 28, 2007 cover of Sports Illustrated.
The Dec. 4 card will crown a 155-pound winner to conclude the 12th season of "The Ultimate Fighter" and will air live on Spike TV, headlined between a light heavyweight fight between Stephan Bonnar and Igor Pokrajac.