Cody Garbrandt doesn’t mind looking one step ahead, in fact, he prefers it.
While “No Love” has no problem focusing on UFC 217 foe and former Team Alpha Male training partner T.J. Dillashaw, he already has something in mind for his next move following what he expects to be a successful bantamweight title defense. And it doesn’t appear to involve the 135-pound weight class.
“With a knockout over T.J., I’ve wiped out the division,” Garbrandt said during a media call on Wednesday. “There’s a big gap between [Dominick Cruz], myself and T.J. and it falls off from there. I always like to have a fight ahead of myself. Obviously, I’m focusing on T.J., but ‘Mighty Mouse’ is next at 125 pounds.”
Demetrious Johnson is coming off a submission victory over Ray Borg at UFC 216, a triumph that gave him sole possession of the promotion’s record for most successful title defenses that he previously shared with Anderson Silva. Johnson and Garbrandt have danced around a potential superfight throughout 2017, but the reigning flyweight king recently seemed more open to the possibility than he had in the past.
“That’s definitely a fight that we could look at..I just talked to Cody [recently] about that stuff,” Johnson said prior to UFC 216. “We’re on board with it and we’ll see what happens. He’s focused on T.J. Dillashaw right now, and then he said, ‘I’ve got to see what’s next after that.’ We’ll see what happens.”
That was a different stance than what Johnson took when the promotion wanted him to face Dillashaw earlier this summer. The AMC Pankration representative balked at facing an opponent who hadn’t earned a victory at 125 pounds, instead targeting Borg as the next contender.
With Johnson changing his tune, it becomes a matter of whether or not Garbrandt could make the flyweight limit. The Team Alpha Male star doesn’t lack for confidence in that regard.
“I could make 125 on Nov. 4 [the date of UFC 217] if I wanted to,” he said.
Another possibility for Garbrandt, should he defeat Dillashaw, would be to face the winner of the bout between 135-pound contenders Dominick Cruz and Jimmie Rivera at UFC 217. Garbrandt, of course, vanquished Cruz to claim bantamweight gold at UFC 206 last December. When given the option, Garbrandt finds Johnson to be a much more appealing next fight.
“Cruz is at the tail end [of his career]. Neither he nor Rivera are money fights for me,” Garbrandt said. “I’m going to fight DJ. That’s a business move.”
For now, though, Garbrandt is focused on his former teammate, and although their bout sits second on the marquee behind Michael Bisping and Georges St. Pierre, the bantamweight champion has no doubts about where it truly belongs.
“Our fight sells on all angles, it sells everywhere,” Garbrandt said. “We’re the real main event on Nov. 4.”