Cody Garbrandt to Make Flyweight Debut at UFC 269

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Cody Garbrandt is set to try his luck down at flyweight at UFC 269. The former undefeated bantamweight champion has been down on his luck since dropping the title back in 2017, going 1-4, suffering three knockout finishes. Most recently he dropped a decision to last weeks headliner, Rob Font. We take a look at whether the star could succeed at 125lbs and what the future may hold with a victory this weekend.

No Love, No Luck

The accolade of going from unranked to world champion in a year is something that no one can ever take away from Cody Garbrandt. Gaining four knockouts and a decision victory in his first five fights in the UFC, Garbrandt was more than deserving of a shot at then-champion, Dominick Cruz. The bad blood between the two hyped the fight in a big way, however, what played out was pure dominance from the younger, fresher, Garbrandt. A complete shutout, despite being outlanded, saw Garbrandt walk away with the belt. 0-7 on takedowns for Cruz, two knockdowns for Garbrandt cemented his rise to fame. 

Since then, however, he was beaten twice by bitter rival TJ Dillashaw, both by knockout and this was followed by a knockout loss to Pedro Munhoz. In each of these losses, one thing was clear. Garbrandt stayed in the pocket for a split second too long, was caught at the end of a firefight and consequently didn’t have the chin to continue. 

‘No Love’ was able to bounce back after three consecutive losses, however. After trying a new coach in Mark Henry, Garbrandt looked to avoid the firefight in his match-up with Raphael Assuncao. A much more measured performance from Garbrandt saw him throw just 20 strikes in the first round. In the second, he again was more measured until he finished the fight in a devastating fashion.

Following this, he was scheduled to make his flyweight debut against then-champion, Deiveson Figueiredo. After contracting COVID-19, Garbrandt had to withdraw. The American suffered massively with long-term effects of COVID, even contracting pneumonia.

His return fight saw him drop a one-sided decision against Rob Font at bantamweight. 48-47, 50-45 and 50-45 saw the former champion drop to 1-4 in his last five bouts.

Flyweight Debut

In order to try and recapture past form, Cody Garbrandt will drop 10lbs to compete at flyweight for the first time in his career. He will face off against the game New Zealander, Kai Kara-France. Kara-France is 2-2 in his last four bouts, most recently scoring a big knockout victory over Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 259.

Despite being the one moving down in weight, Garbrandt will enter the bout with a four-inch reach disadvantage. Kara-France is the more active fighter, landing 5.02 strikes per minute against Garbrandt’s 3.17. Both men have an almost identical accuracy with 39% and 38% a-piece. Neither man has scored a submission victory in the UFC. Garbrandt has landed eight takedowns in his UFC career thus far, which isn’t a surprise with his Team Alpha Male background. Kara-France has landed just three, highlighting how much he prefers the fight on the feet.

The power advantage will likely sit with Garbrandt as he was scoring big knockouts up at bantamweight. The stats also suggest that Kara-France will be the busier fighter. This means that he will have to use his footwork to get in and out quickly in order to not get caught with anything from the American. With that being said, Garbrandt has had a tendency to stay in the pocket for too long to his detriment. Kara-France will have to decide whether he wants to stand and trade with Garbrandt, hoping to catch him and avoid his superior power or stay on his toes and look to piece the former champion up from the outside.

There are plenty of questions going into this bout: How much will the weight cut affect Garbrandt and will it be at a detriment to his chin? Will his power carry down to flyweight? Can Kara-France mix it up well enough in order to keep Garbtandt guessing and not allow him to plant his feet and swing? What’s next for the winner of this exciting fight?

All questions will be answered on Saturday night at UFC 269 and MMASucka will be right with you the whole way! You can check 0ut MMASucka’s latest podcast where the guys provide a technical breakdown of the UFC 269 main event here:

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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