Garbrandt New UFC Bantamweight Champion
Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz promised during the time leading up to his 135-pound division title defense that Cody “No Love” Garbrandt (a 32-1 amateur boxer coming in at 10-0 in the UFC) would be, “hitting air all night” when they fought. We have a new bantamweight champion.
The Team Alpha Male member went the full 25-minute distance with Cruz, just the second occurrence in his career. Cruz struck first with the opening right hand of Round 1. They dance and Garbrandt chips away at his opponent with a left. Cruz fails with an overhand right bomb and takes another. They exchange low kicks before Garbrandt neutralizes a Cruz takedown, flipping him over and standing again. He tries for a takedown of his own that doesn’t go his way, but the challenger takes the round.
The second is a real toss-up as Cruz again lands, blasting Garbrandt’s dome. He continues to work the volume/output strategy with continued leg kicks and piling on to make these five minutes challenging to judge. Gabrandt hits paydirt with a body kick to avoid being completely shutout though and they appear even as the contest reaches its halfway point.
The highlight of the third was a suspected headbutt that cut Cruz, but commentator Joe Rogan wasn’t entirely sure. The defending titleholder is more evasive than tactical now, and the frame is filled with more unfriendly conversation than anything. When Cruz gets wild with a right hand, Garbrandt drops him with a counter for the first knockdown of the fight and follows up with a knee when he stands. The challenger adds uppercuts to his recipe as it’s pedal-to-the-metal for “No Love.”
Cruz is groggy early in the fourth after a right hand. He looks for another takedown briefly but settles and stays upright to keep boxing. A straight right-left hand brings the second knockdown in favor of Garbrandt, the man now obviously ahead.
The Sacramento-based Ohio native in Garbrandt sails down the homestretch. Cruz goes airborne for a flying knee but is caught. Before this, he only offers a few jabs to defend himself. The clock runs down with the talk progressing, giving Garbrandt enough time to intentionally drop to the canvas in a taunt. The intense rivals reluctantly embrace at the sound of the horn.
(C) Cody Garbrandt def. Dominick Cruz via Unanimous Decision (48-46, 48-46, 48-47)