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Ryan LaFlare returns at UFC Atlantic City to face Alex Garcia

Ryan LaFlare after round one during his fight

Ryan LaFlare after round one during his fight with Alex Oliveira at UFC Long Island at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on July 22, 2017. Oliveira won by KO in the second round. Photo Credit: Newsday/Jeffrey Basinger

The last image MMA fans have of Ryan LaFlare in the octagon is the one he’d like to forget: a hometown hero facedown on the canvas at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

LaFlare, from Lindenhurst, gets his opportunity to restructure that narrative on April 21 when he faces Alex Garcia at UFC Fight Night in Atlantic City.

“I took some time off and wanted to miss it a little bit,” LaFlare said. “Now I’m as hungry as ever.”

Before that loss last summer to Alex Oliveira, LaFlare (13-2) had won two straight by unanimous decision. Slowed by injuries throughout his career, the welterweight also holds a win over Santiago Ponzinibbio, currently the No. 10 ranked welterweight in the UFC.

“The KO doesn’t have much effect,” LaFlare said. “Just keep my hands up and don’t rush in.”

Garcia (15-4) is coming off a second-round submission victory over Muslim Salikhov last November. He has alternated wins and losses over his last six fights.

Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee headline the card. It also features fellow Long Islanders Aljamain Sterling and Merab Dvalishvili in bantamweight bouts.

New York Sports