Dominick Cruz’s (22-1) long and storied career will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest in the sport of mixed martial arts. Despite a slew of injury layoffs and the best efforts of Urijah Faber and the supporting cast at Team Alpha Male, the 135lb champion has remained at the very top of the bantamweight division since its inception into the UFC.
His compelling rivalry and subsequent trilogy of fights with Faber was largely responsible for bantamweight fighters having the opportunity to fight on the biggest stage in MMA. And although Ronda Rousey’s return in UFC 207’s main event is grabbing all the mainstream headlines, Cruz’s bantamweight title fight against Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt (10-0) (the latest challenger from Team Alpha Male) is the one that’s generating all the buzz within the MMA community.
A New Challenge
As far as challengers go, Garbrandt is truly unique. His technical ability as a boxer coupled with the sheer power he possesses in his hands is enough to force Cruz into adapting his usual fighting style. The bantamweight champion is famed for his ability to get out of the way of his opponents combinations, but both Faber and TJ Dillashaw had success landing shots on the break from the clinch, or on the way out of exchanges.
While not ideal, this chink in his otherwise seemingly impenetrable armour never proved to be costly against other fighters. However, when faced with the power of Garbrandt, this is a risk that the ‘Dominator’ would be foolish to take.
Cody has won all but one of his fights by way of knockout or TKO, with 7 of those coming in the very first round. The danger posed by his crisp, quick and powerful hands is compounded by his teasing feints and intelligent footwork, making the 25-year-old one of the most dangerous and well-rounded strikers in the bantamweight division.
The most fearsome weapon in his arsenal is his left hook. He uses it extremely effectively on the counter or as the follow up to a straight right when he’s moving forward. The efficiency with which he throws it makes it supremely difficult for his opponent to see it coming, which means that Cruz would do very well to stay on the outside and out of Garbrandt’s boxing range for as long as he can.
Luckily for the champ though, getting out of the way is something he does better than almost anyone in the sport. Garbrandt may very well be the bull in this scenario, but if anyone can effectively play the role of matador inside the cage then it’s Dominick Cruz.
The unpredictability of his highly unorthodox style of movement makes it almost impossible to replicate in the gym. His ability to cut angles and shoot off into space has been the keystone of his success throughout his career and has meant that despite lacking real knockout power, he is one of the most dangerous men at 135lbs.
For Cody, the only way he wins this fight is by KO/TKO. He’ll be most dangerous early on, but still has the cardio to generate knockout power in the later rounds of the fight as well. However, if the fight goes the distance then I really can’t see a way that Garbrandt will have the technical wherewithal to out-point the champion.