Though Cody Garbrandt in his upcoming shot at the champion Dominick Cruz may seem long-awaited due to the animosity between the two fighters, it’s easy to forget that the 25 year old fighter hasn’t even been in the UFC for two years. In fact, the UFC 207 title fight will land almost exactly four years after Garbrandt’s MMA debut.
Whilst some may point to that relative lack of experience as a negative for Garbrandt against such a respect and revered great like Cruz, in many ways it could actually prove to be a key to victory. Garbrandt fights with an innate aggression and fearlessness that you only really see from a fighter fresh and confident enough to trust his own power and athleticism against anyone in the world. It’s almost a naivety and I mean that in the best possible way.
It’s shown prominently inside the octagon too, particularly in Garbrandt’s last two victories. In May of this year ‘No Love’ took on fellow undefeated contender Thomas Almeida in the main event of a FOX Sports card. Almeida was 21-0 opposed to Garbrandt’s 8-0 with both fighters only going to the scorecards one time each.
Thomas Almeida in the main event
The dynamic Brazilian entered the slight favourite and it wasn’t hard to see why, he had been incredibly impressive in his first four UFC performances. However, in the biggest fight of his life and with more attention on him than ever before, Cody Garbrandt thrived.
After using fast combinations early to completely offset and befuddle his rival, Garbrandt’s instincts began to appear as he became more aggressive, badly wobbling Almeida. Seconds later and Garbrandt seized the finish in a wild instant, dropping the Brazilian with a devastating right hand.
In a flash it was all over and in less than three minutes Cody Garbrandt had vehemently vanquished the most feared rising talent in the Bantamweight division and in doing so, had taken his place. The win was so spectacular that fans immediately began to anticipate a potential clash with the champion Cruz but first the contender had to secure his spot as a viable challenger.
The next part of that would be a different kind of test as Garbrandt took on veteran Takeya Mizugaki. An experienced veteran, Mizugaki seemed as though he could make for an awkward match up for Garbrandt even if not a particularly dangerous one. It was a new position for Garbrandt as he now found himself the fighter with all the expectations on his back, it wasn’t just about winning but about the way he had to win.
Taking on Mizugaki
On fight night Garbrandt simply refused to allow Mizugaki to settle, jumping on him and forcing him to engage. With his defence exposed as he tried to keep the young aggressor off of him, Mizugaki was dropped by a right hand and quickly finished all in 48 seconds.
It was yet another example of Garbrandt doing everything you could possibly ask of him and it’s that quality that has landed ‘No Love’ this title opportunity. It isn’t hard to argue that there’s some other fighters at 135lbs that would be more credible challengers based purely on their resumes but that isn’t what matters here.
People are intrigued due to Garbrandt’s aggressive style and the way it contrasts with Cruz’s, they are encapsulated by the ongoing rivalry that has been brewing. The truth is that Cody Garbrandt is just a little different to the rest of the division, the question is whether or not that will make any difference against a champion as great as Cruz.
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Image courtesy of foxsports.com