Fighter of the Week: Cody Garbrandt

Cody “No Love” Garbrandt
Pro Record: 11 wins & 0 losses
Association: Team Alpha Male
Weight Class: Bantamweight/Featherweight

In this week’s addition of the Fighter of the Week we will take a look at Cody Garbrandt, the new bantamweight champion of the UFC after his dominant decision win over long time champion, Dominick Cruz, at UFC 207.

Garbrandt comes from pretty humble beginnings in his hometown of Uhrichsville, Ohio. He grew up fatherless, being raised by his mother with his siblings. When he was 14, his mother enrolled him and his older brother in wrestling, basically a way to get her boys to burn their energy in something productive instead of fighting at home or in the streets. Competing in wrestling Garbrandt won a State championship in high school in 2007 as a freshman and finished second the next year. However, a back injury led to him missing the entire season of his junior year and a school fight cost him his wrestling eligibility his last two years of high school. Despite that he still received Division I offers to wrestle from Penn St., Michigan, and Rutgers, but ultimately for academics reasons he would not be accepted. He wound up at Division II School Newbury College in South Carolina. He wouldn’t last long there saying, “It wasn’t for him”, and moved back to Ohio where the direction of his life would again change.

Instead of being a coal-miner after returning home, the profession of many from his hometown including both of his grandfathers, Garbrandt decided to concentrate on a life of fighting, competing in boxing and MMA. Garbrandt had been boxing since he was 15, trained by his Uncle Robert who was an amateur boxer and an Olympic alternate. Robert had been taking Garbrandt and his brother to the gym since he was 4 years old. Garbrandt would compile a 32-1 amateur record in boxing but he realized MMA was ultimately what he wanted to compete in. Using his boxing background he had a few amateur MMA fights and turned pro in 2012 at the age of 21. After a loss in his last amateur MMA fight he realized if he wanted a real shot in the sport and to compete at a high level he would need to upgrade his training. Shortly after he flew to Sacramento to train with Team Alpha Male where he joined friend Lance Palmer, whom he knew through wrestling in Ohio. In July of 2012, Garbrandt would permanently make the move to Sacramento to train full-time with Team Alpha Male.

Garbrandt would win his first 5 pro fights by TKO or KO in Pinnacle and NAAFS organizations. Garbrandt flew to Austin, Texas, to help teammate Joseph Benavidez in his final pre-fight preparations against Dustin Ortiz. While Garbrandt was eating dinner with his manager, they ran into UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Joe Silva. Garbrandt and Shelby had some history of interaction over social media and before dinner was over, Garbrandt had a UFC contract signed. The “Garbrandt train” didn’t slow down in MMA’s top organization. Garbrandt beat Marcus Brimage by TKO in the 3rd round of his UFC debut and won 3 of his next 4 fights by TKO or KO. His win over Mizugaki propelled him into a title fight with Dominick Cruz at UFC 207.

I, for one, thought he jumped too many people in line for the title fight and was surprised he got the bout with Cruz ahead of at least a Dillashaw-Cruz rematch. His fights were very impressive, but I thought he needed another solid win on his resume against a top 5 fighter to fight for the title. He was the 5th ranked bantamweight at the time of his fight with Cruz. But he proved many of us wrong and did it in dominating fashion. Using his defense, excellent movement, and boxing he battered Cruz for all 5 rounds, knocking Cruz down a couple of times, and absolutely controlling Cruz like we have never seen done before on his way to a unanimous decision victory over the longtime champion and FOTN bonus to top it off. This was a huge victory for Garbrandt, obviously, but also Team Alpha Male, whose founder and Garbrant’s mentor and role model Uriah Faber has a long history feud with Cruz. I will note that Cruz was 5-1 against ‘TAM’ fighters heading into this fight, losing only to Faber in their first contest in 2007. After the fight Garbrandt immediately called out TJ Dillashaw, an ex-TAM member, in what has the making for not only a great fight but also great hype leading up to it. I can’t wait for that one!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Garbrandt’s relationship with 10-year old Maddux Maple, whom we all saw Garbrandt give his belt to post-fight. Garbrandt met Maddux when Maddux was only 5 years old and battling leukemia while Garbrandt was still an amateur fighter. They made a promise to each other then; that Maddux would beat his fight with leukemia and Garbrandt would reach the UFC and they would do it together. Garbrandt actually donated all of his ticket sales to the Maple family after the two met to help with medical bills. Also, this isn’t Maddux’s first time with Garbrandt at one of his fights. He walked out with Garbrandt in his UFC debut carrying his “922” flag, which I believe is their area code in Ohio. This is a strong friendship between the two and it was awesome to see after the fight. And for the best part of this story, Maddux was declared leukemia-free in August of 2015. It seems they both held up their end of their promise to each other.


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