Cody Garbrandt put on a clinic at UFC 207.
It has been a few days now since last weekend’s UFC 207, an event that many are still struggling to fully contemplate and digest due to the sheer insanity of what transpired that night.
And though it was the quick destruction of Ronda Rousey that grabbed the attention of the masses, for many, it was the defeat of Dominick Cruz at the hands of the young-gun Cody Garbrandt that had us scratching our heads in pure confusion at what we had just witnessed.
Cody stepped into the octagon that night and controlled the action no matter where the fight took place, matching Cruz step for step and laying the type of beating on him that virtually none of us had seen coming. One man had pretty much no reason to be surprised at what went down, however, is Team Alpha Male head-coach Justin Buchholz, who has cornered some of Dominick Cruz’s greatest challenges over the years.
Buchholz, in an interview on the Fight Society Podcast had this to say concerning the exact moment he felt the momentum started to go his man’s way.
“I wasn’t that surprised the way things went. I felt like Cody was just on another level but I’ve got to say within the first minute, Cody did a little shimmy-shake on him and hit him with a couple dance moves and Cruz just looked at him like ‘are you serious?’. From there I was like ‘we’ve got the upper hand now’. Cruz is coming and he’s not going to sit there and let him dance on him and that’s exactly what we wanted.”
The rivalry that exists between the former-champ Cruz and Urijah Faber’s gym, Team Alpha Male is well documented at this stage. Throughout Dominick’s reign as the world’s top bantamweight he had faced off with several of the camp’s toughest athletes, besting each and every one of them barring an early-career loss to Faber and, of course, his brutal defeat to Garbrandt.
In Friday night’s fight, it was a combination of cool-headedness and a strong game-plan that allowed Cody to taunt Dominick into chasing him, something that negated the champ’s usual style and allowed “No Love” to choose his angles clinically and deliver the power shots. When all was said and done, Cody was declared the victor in a dominant performance, one that showed enough personality to suggest a bright future for the 25-year-old.
One point in the performance however that many – according to Buchholz – haven’t given due credit to is the fantastic takedown defence shown by Garbrandt on the night, something that he believes completely disrupted the rhythm of the champion from the get-go.
“If you can’t win the wrestling with Cruz, you’re not going to win,” continued Buchholz. “The stand-up is to dazzle you. He doesn’t finish guys on the feet except for Mizugaki but that was with a ground and pound combination but he’s dangerous. He can set up those takedowns. He’s the master at that. Lulling you into a stand-up exchange and then switching it up and taking you down and scoring that round.
“Right in the first round, Cruz realized he was in with a different animal because he had an amazing timed shoot and Cody reversed to the north-south. That’s a credit to [Danny] Castillo and [Chris] Holdsworth’s jiu-jitsu. Just that body awareness. Putting him in new situations. [Cody] ended up on top and Cruz is like ‘holy **** this is a different type of guy’.”
Cody managed to stop each and every one of Dom’s seven takedown attempts on the night and actually managed to score one of his own in the early stages of the fight. It was an amazing performance to see in motion and for sure one that will be held to the heights of some of the greatest title-challenger displays we’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
With the bantamweight title now at home in the Team Alpha Male gym, only time will tell how successful a championship-reign Cody and his team can put together, but with several top-contenders circling, you can be sure they will have their work cut out for them as another year in the UFC begins to gather momentum.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena