On December 30, in the co-main event of UFC 207, bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will attempt to defend his title against the young Cody Garbrandt.
In advance of this bantamweight title showdown, both fighters have pretty clear paths to victory. If Cruz wants to win, he’ll need to avoid Garbrandt’s fight-altering punching power and drag him into the later rounds where he might get tired and frustrated. If Garbrandt wants to score the upset, he needs to plant a bomb on Cruz’s chin early, and avoid a drawn-out war of attrition with the crafty champion.
Cruz, of course, is well aware of his foe’s advantages. Given that Garbrandt has scored first-round knockouts in his there most recent bouts, you’d have to be blind to not know what he brings to the table.
Garbrandt’s propensity for violence early on doesn’t worry Cruz, however. Instead, the champion compared his upcoming foe to former UFC heavyweight Shane Carwin. Carwin, of course, developed a reputation as an absolute killer with a string of first-round knockouts. Eventually, however, fighters figured out that he had little to offer outside the first round, and that’s where his career derailed.
“Yes, he’s got knockouts on his record in the first round,” Cruz said of Garbrandt on the latest episode of The MMA Hour. “but so did Shane Carwin and we all saw what happened to him when he went out there past the first round, didn’t we?”
“This game is one where you have to be able to mix it up, not just one round and show how dominant you can be with your power, but you have to have more than power,” Cruz continued. “You have to have power, ring generalship, know how to mix things up and how to win in the clinch, takedowns, over-unders, you have to understand how to get off your back without threatening yourself.”
“You have to understand how to keep it after you earn it. And with a style that’s only proven to be able to go two, three rounds, that’s a tough style to deal with against somebody like me and that is what this matchup is about,” Cruz concluded.
Needless to say, Cruz seems confident that Garbrandt doesn’t bring enough to the table to spring the upset. Do you agree with him, or is he in for a rude awakening against his upcoming challenger? Sound off, PENN Nation!