Seems like it was just yesterday: Cody Garbrandt picking apart Dominick Cruz, peppering him with precise punches and viciously-timed dance moves for five perfect rounds.
It was a performance for the ages. No one had done that to Dom—a living legend in the sport—and few had claimed a UFC title in such spectacular fashion.
That Garbrandt was something special, a loud-mouthed, awe-striking knockout artist who had as much potential as he had tattoos. Even when he was wearing the UFC Bantamweight Champion belt, Garbrandt’s future shined brighter. He oozed super stardom, dripping with preposterous monetary possibilities that probably had a heart-eyed Dana White sloshing his fingers through a puddle of drool and dollars.
Then came T.J. Dillashaw. (A juiced up T.J., to be clear.)
Cody Garbrandt’s Last Glimmer of Hope
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Two vicious knockout losses later and Garbrandt’s never been the same, completely derailed from his bee-line to the Hall of Fame. Even after he flashed the classic highlight capabilities people grew to love—a viral buzzer-beating clubbing of Pedro Munhoz March 2020—Garbrandt’s been on the wrong end of two cringe-worthy performances: First drubbed by Rob Font for five rounds then brutally finished by Kai Kara-France.
Tomorrow, “No Love” gets his chance to get back on the winning track when he steps into the octagon to face Trevin Jones in a featured prelim that will most certainly determine Garbrandt’s UFC future.
With the world focused on the return of Jon Jones, two championship bouts, a pair of Top 10 clashes and the bright lights that constantly follow Bo Nickal, “No Love” is essentially left dancing alone on the fringe of the spotlight. That is unless he can wow the Las Vegas crowd to remind them of what he is capable.
It’s easy to forget how much of a rising star Garbrandt was when he burst onto the scene in 2015. Winning four of first five UFC fights by knockout, Garbrandt made a statement to the world when he outclassed Cruz for five rounds in December 2016 to claim the UFC strap. If it was not for the sweet footwork or the elite striking, it was the uber cool pop-locking dance moves throughout the master class that solidified his spot as one of the best in the world.
Those were the glory days, but times have changed. Garbrandt’s back in a position where he must prove himself, and he has to handle business against Jones in convincing fashion. A mediocre performance against a huge underdog currently riding a three-fight losing streak will not cut it. Garbrandt has to be impressive. He must force the spotlight back onto himself, or become a name on the resume of Jones.
Garbrandt has taken the appropriate steps—a change of camp to Xtreme Couture MMA in Las Vegas and a return to the Bantamweight division—but can “No Love” get it done on Saturday night, or is this the last glimmer of his dwindling star power?