Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt are two of the hottest commodities currently fighting at 135 pounds, and both have proven themselves to be true knockout collectors.
The young bantamweights have a combined total of 23 KOs in their 28 wins -- 16 for Almeida, seven for Garbrandt -- so it stands to reason that the pair’s upcoming meeting could only end one way.
Almeida’s trainer, Chute Boxe Sao Paulo leader Diego Lima, predicts that this Sunday’s clash at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas will not reach the third of five scheduled rounds.
“I don’t see how this fight could be decided by points,” Lima told Sherdog.com this week. “They are two aggressive strikers with heavy hands and high-level technique, so you don’t need to be a genius to predict it will end by knockout, and I don’t think it will get into the third round.
“‘Thominhas’ is ready for anything Cody brings to the cage, but what he loves most is to trade blows, so he’ll do his best to keep the fight standing up. I’m really confident Thomas will knock him out. The only sure thing is that it’s gonna be a war.”
Almeida and Garbrandt are regularly referred to as top prospects in the bantamweight division, and rightfully so. However, despite their youth and upside, Lima feels both men have advanced past the “prospect” phase of their careers.
“It’s not fair to call them both prospects, because with the fights they’ve had so far, they’re for real,” explained Lima. “By the way, UFC wouldn’t put ‘prospects’ in a main event in Las Vegas. We’re really happy for that, and Thomas is very motivated. It’s gonna be his first time on a poster. For many people, it means nothing, but for us, that’s a huge emotion. It shows we’re following the right path -- step by step, no hurry -- to reach our goal: the title shot.”
With Garbrandt’s boxing background and Almeida’s muay Thai skills, one interesting wrinkle could be what happens if the fight hits the floor. Lima asserted that Almeida will be comfortable regardless of where the fight is contested.
“The same aggressive style that he has standing up, he also shows that on the ground,” said Lima. “He showed it against Yves Jabouin when he tried a triangle, and also against Brad Pickett. So, wherever the fight goes, the fans will have fun.”
Lima noted that Garbrandt attempted to stir up some online animosity during the run-up to the fight, but said that Almeida is not one to partake in Conor McGregor-style shenanigans.
“Cody is funny. He wrote on Thomas’ Instagram that he is ready and we should bring an army. He wants to provoke Thomas, but he is prepared for any kind of trash talk,” Lima said. “What he does inside the Octagon, he can’t do on social media. On the contrary: Thomas is not much for trash talk, but he trains so hard and shows it inside the Octagon.”