UFC 235 will be headlined by a pair of title fights, as Jon Jones defends his title against Anthony Smith, and Tyron Woodley looks to fend off Kamaru Usman. But the fireworks kick off far earlier than that. In the first bout of the UFC 235 main card, former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt returns to the Octagon, where he’ll look to correct a two-fight skid after losing the title to bitter rival TJ Dillashaw.
In a rivalry that not only cost him his title, but consumed over a year of his fighting career, Garbrandt finds himself on the road to redemption and glory, as he looks to get back to what made him so special when he became champion.
A new father, Garbrandt’s no longer focusing solely on titles and money, but also providing an example for his young son not only in the cage, but by fighting through adversity to achieve greatness.
When discussing Garbrandt’s family, you’d be remiss not to mention Robert Meese, his uncle, who is widely credited for getting “No Love” to where he is in his professional career. While he won’t be in his the former champ’s corner at UFC 235, Meese is hoping that the old version of Cody Garbrandt — the one that he watched rise from a young kid in Ohio to a UFC champion — makes an appearance.
In an exclusive interview with BJPenn.com, Robert Meese spoke about Cody Garbrandt’s fight against Pedro Munhoz and what he hopes to see moving forward from his nephew.
As he found himself wrapped in a rivalry with former teammate TJ Dillashaw, Cody Garbrandt wasn’t his usual self, according to Meese.
“The last couple camps we had, the Cody that fought Dominick [Cruz] just wasn’t there,” Meese said. “People wanted to sit on social media and say it was this or that, but in reality, even when the technique was bad. Cody had been so good that no one could take advantage of it.”
Robert Meese has always been there for Cody Garbrandt and although they aren’t working together for this fight, that doesn’t mean he’s not hoping for the best for his nephew. While becoming a father can become easy motivation for anyone, Meese says the motivation can go two ways, and it’s up to Cody Garbrandt to pick the way he lets his fatherhood to drive him.
“When it comes to motivation, it can go one of two ways. It can be a step back or he can say ‘hey, I have a kid now and this is what I need to be fighting for’.
“I’m hoping that Cody wants to make a statement, I’m hoping Cody is wanting to fight like he did when he beat Dominick Cruz. If he fought like the way he did when he beat Dominick, he would’ve beat Dom and TJ in the same night,” Meese added. “Things that inspire a fighter are within, and sometimes only the fighter can pull that out of themselves.”
The inspiration may need to come from Cody Garbrandt himself, but his uncle, known by many at Team Alpha Male as “Uncle Bob,” wants nothing more than to watch his nephew succeed. He also wants to work with him again, as long as their schedules line up.
In the end, Meese knows this fight against Munhoz is the perfect fight for Garbrandt to get back on track.
“Munhoz has never been stopped, so if Cody wants to make a statement, he’s going to knock this person out,” Meese said. “Him fighting a ranked guy, that’s not a statement, but stopping a guy who has never been stopped before is making a statement. With a win over Munhoz, I’d like to see him fight Jimmie Rivera or John Lineker.”
Whatever the case, Robert Meese believes that when Cody Garbrandt is focused and on-point, he can beat any bantamweight in the world. Do you think we’ll see a return to form from the former champ at UFC 235 this weekend?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/27/2019.