Cody Garbrandt is already one of the most-talked about talents in the UFC’s bantamweight division, and for good reason.
The Team Alpha Male product’s first-round knockout of highly-touted Brazilian Thomas Almeida at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas this past May officially signaled his arrival as a contender at 135 pounds. Ever since then, he and reigning champion Dominick Cruz have been firing jabs at one another on social media.
As it stands right now, “No Love” believes he already has more star power than the sharp-tongued Cruz.
“He says I’m riding Urijah’ Faber’s coattails, but really Dominick’s riding my coattails because I’m the one that’s in the media getting talked about the most,” Garbrandt recently told members of the media. “So he wants to jump in there and try and steal my thunder. He’s saying, ‘I want to fight Cody. He’s got tattoos and a hard part and he thinks he’s tough.’”
While Cruz has Garbrandt’s attention now, the 25-year-old Ohioan says he never watched his would-be rival fight until UFC 199, when “The Dominator” handily dispatched Team Alpha Male founder Urijah Faber over five rounds. Although Cruz was largely dominant in that fight, Garbrandt still gained confidence regarding a future meeting with the champion.
“The first time I ever watched Dom was in L.A. when he fought Faber, and that’s all I needed to see,” Garbrandt said.
“He’s a smart fighter and he knows stylistically it’s a bad matchup, my style against his. If you look at him, his head’s off the track a lot. He uses different kinds of angles. I use more of precise, technical angles. I stay sharp. When he throws his punches his chin’s exposed. I’ll be able to find that, I’m very accurate. All I needed to see was that one fight live to have the confidence to know I’ll knock him out.”
First, Garbrandt must get past durable Japanese gatekeeper Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 202 (live odds), an opponent Cruz finished in 61 seconds at UFC 178. As long as he takes care of business on Saturday, Garbrandt believes he has the inside track to getting a title shot.
“He had Urijah hurt and he couldn’t finish him. Urijah is as tough as they come and as great as shape as they come. That guy has world class cardio, and just mental toughness and physical toughness,” he said. “I think [Cruz] definitely point fighted Faber. That fight will open up and here it is, he’s talking about fighting me.”
However, Cruz has also expressed interest in super fights against the likes of Conor McGregor, Jose Aldo and Demetrious Johnson. Garbrandt, meanwhile, thinks the champion should clean out his own division first.
“I’m obviously set on being the champion and that’s all that matters to me. The super fights are great for when you wipe out your entire division and Dominick hasn’t yet,” he said. “So I don’t think he should be talking about going up and doing super fights. He still has a young hungry lion undefeated climbing the ranks and coming for his title. Smash me and then go talk about a super fight with someone else.”