Uhrichsville, Ohio, native Cody Garbrandt grew up wanting his shot at an Ultimate Fighting Championship title, and he made good on his first opportunity at the gold, as he outpointed Dominick Cruz and earned a unanimous-decision victory in the co-main event of UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, Friday night.
With the win over Cruz, who lost for just the second time in his mixed martial arts career and first time since March of 2007, Garbrandt improved to 11-0 as a professional, and has been victorious in all six of his bouts since debuting with the UFC on January 3, 2015.
It was just the second time Garbrandt was pushed to a judge’s decision in the UFC, and first time he was forced into the championship rounds.
Known for his fast knockouts, Garbrandt showed poise and patience in the first round, measuring his punches and landing on the unorthodox Cruz, whose unique movements and reach advantage usually allow him to avoid contact.
Garbrandt landed 16 of his 40 strikes, as opposed to the 14-of-55 showing from Cruz. A former state champion wrestler, Garbrandt landed a well-timed takedown in the last minute of the first round and held ground control for five seconds.
Just like the first round, Garbrandt outpointed Cruz in strikes, 19-18, and all of the punches and kicks that landed from both fighters were considered significant.
Garbrandt and Cruz remained standing for most of the third round, but an inadvertent headbutt during a furious exchange opened up the champion above the left eye. Cruz suffered the gash on his left eyebrow while trying to duck a punch from the heavy-handed Garbrandt.
Garbrandt landed more punches, 19 to 17, and threw less, 52 to 68, in the third round.
Despite not going deep into fights because of his knockout power, Garbrandt showed stamina in the fourth round and landed 19 strikes, all of which were significant. Two of Garbrandt’s punches landed with such accuracy and force that he knocked down the defending champion.
Garbrandt is the second Ohio-born fighter to win a UFC title this year, as he followed in the footsteps of heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, who won his belt from Fabricio Werdum in May and successfully defended it at UFC 203 in Quicken Loans Arena on September 10.