It’s been a banner year for undefeated bantamweight Cody Garbrandt. The 25-year-old kicked off 2016 with a first-round knockout of Augusto Mendes. Next up was another first-round KO, this time over the then undefeated Thomas Almeida. Then, in his most recent bout, Garbrandt delivered a 48-second knockout of gritty Japanese veteran Takeya Mizugaki. If Garbrandt is able to win his next fight, however, it will blow all these other impressive performances out of the water. His next fight is, after all, a championship bout with dominant bantamweight king Dominick Cruz.
If Garbrandt caps off 2016 with a knockout of Cruz, he’ll have had one of the finest years imaginable in MMA. In fact, he thinks a defeat of Cruz would be more than enough to earn him 2016’s Fighter of the Year award.
The undefeated challenger made his case on the most recent episode of The Luke Thomas show.
“I think I should be Fighter of the Year,” he explained. “I go from unranked to world champion in one year. Before I got in the UFC, I wrote down on a piece of paper a goal that I was going to make it to the UFC in 2015 and then I’ll be the world champion before 2017 so I’m right on track. I pull out that piece of paper all the time and look at it. It’s motivation.”
“So that’ll be nice, Fighter of the Year,” he continued. “I think I deserve it. Dominick is one of the top bantamweights, top fighters in the world and obviously with my progression throughout my fights I’m finishing fighters faster and faster and faster each fight…So if they want to give my fighter of the year after I dismantle Dominick Cruz I’ll be happy to accept the award.”
At a glance, its hard to argue that a win over Cruz would make Garbrandt a shoo-in for Fighter of the Year. Michael Bisping, whose year has been highlighted by an unlikely middleweight title reign, however, might disagree. So too might Conor McGregor, who recently made history as the first fighter to hold two UFC titles concurrently.
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