The heated feud between the two bantamweight rivals culminated in a classic at UFC 207, with the challenger laying waste to the reign of the champion.
Cody Garbrandt snapped Dominick Cruz’s 13-fight win streak en-route to a stunning decision victory, earning UFC gold at the age of just 25.
Things often got personal between the two in the build-up to their showdown, with the thoughtful and acerbic Cruz seemingly having the edge in the trash-talking stakes. ‘No Love’ appeared emotional approaching his title opportunity – a death knell against the champion who redefined striking defence in MMA.
In reality, however, Garbrandt showcased superior footwork and timing, and really got a hold of Cruz mentally with some dance moves to make his Team Alpha Male stablemate Paige VanZant proud.
— Stadium (@Stadium) December 31, 2016
It was that Team Alpha Male connection that gave rise to this particular rivalry. Cruz dominated his opponent’s mentor Urijah Faber in June, with age proving to be far too much of a hindrance for the California Kid at 37. On this occasion, it was Cruz’s turn to look behind the times.
Garbrandt set the tone by winning the first round, before Cruz rallied in the second by establishing his all-important rhythm.
— UFC (@ufc) December 31, 2016
This….is….AWESOME! Well done boyos 🙂 hard rd to call but cruz hurt him.
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) December 31, 2016
The third round saw Cody utilise some quality grappling, earning a takedown and scrambling when required. This base allowed him to push home his advantage in the fourth, where he knocked down the once invincible looking Cruz multiple times.
Shock-horror – all that flashy movement being completely neutralized by traditional, time-tested footwork (i.e. simple pivots) #UFC207
— Lee Wylie (@leewylieboxing) December 31, 2016
Probably the best fight Ive attended live
— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouse) December 31, 2016
Cody's explosion and head movement have been a joy to watch in this one. Dom landing less than 30 percent of his strikes. Irony? #UFC207
— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) December 31, 2016
Cruz took the fifth on the judges scorecards, but the dominant fourth for ‘No Love’ saw two judges give him that session 10-8 for an overall unanimous decision (48-46, 48-47, 48-46).
Though both fighters didn’t cover themselves in glory at times beforehand, they embraced after the final bell, with the new champion and a friend providing a nice moment.
Garbrandt goes to 11-0, while Cruz still maintains a mighty 22-2 record. Earlier in the night, former division king T.J. Dillashaw likely earned a shot at redemption with a flawless display against John Lineker. Having defected from Team Alpha Male in acrimonious circumstances to join Duane Ludwig at Elevation, the next burgeoning feud in the 135lb. division could match that of the last one.