UFC 207’s co-main event contains the newest chapter in the Dominick Cruz-Team Alpha Male rivalry and the build up has been more than compelling.
Two polar opposites both in and outside of the octagon, Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz and Cody “No Love” Garbrandt have done an excellent job in picking up the media slack left behind by the headlining and returning Ronda Rousey.
Whether it’s a verbal battle over vocabulary, near scuffles backstage or taking shots at girlfriends or teammates, fans can’t wait to tune in and the consensus is that the fan favorite Cruz will be too much for the knock out artist.
Many feel Cruz has faced opponents like Garbrandt before and it might seem easy to dismiss Cody and his lack of experience, but there are some tangibles many fail to address.
Garbrandt began boxing at a tender age and has some professional experience in that area, which could play a factor in how he cuts off the ring and puts together combinations again the evasive Cruz. One of the problems TJ Dillashaw had against Cruz was the lack of anything behind his power shots. Dillashaw seemed content with loading up for pot shots rather than try and mix things up. Dillashaw’s inability to cut off the ring might not necessarily be Garbrandt’s undoing. Garbrandt’s experience in boxing could be beneficial and a potential game changer in solving the Cruz puzzle.
Cody’s background in wrestling gives him all the confidence in the world that he won’t be taken down by Cruz, which proved to be the difference in Cruz’s affair against TJ Dillashaw nearly a year ago. The problem with that confidence is that we saw the same confidence from Dillashaw who found himself on his back briefly, but often enough for it to have a significant impact on the judges’ scorecards. Cruz’s timing on his double leg shot is incredible as he’s managed to make both Faber and Dillashaw along with his past opponents look like amateurs as they let their guard down. Wrestling will no doubt present a significant aspect of this fight when it presents itself.
Cruz has mentioned the low percentage of strikes landed on him leading up to this fight, but the fact is that he can and has been hit and hit hard, but has been able to eat the few blows that’s been inflicted upon him. The question on whether Cruz can eat a shot or two that gets passed his defense is up for debate. Speaking of knockouts, Cruz has continued to remind everyone that Garbrandt has been knocked out early in his career in the lead to the fight, and despite the knock on Cruz for not being able to finish fights, we are witnessing an active Dominick Cruz who is fighting for the third time this year, could very well be at his peak.
Despite both men dismissing each other’s skills, the two know that anything can happen on any given night and in a year filled with upsets, it isn’t farfetched to bank on a new champion arriving in the form of the 25-year-old up-and-comer. Then again, smart money says Dominick Cruz and his advantage in experience and in unconventional ability will be enough to hand Garbrandt his first UFC loss and end his string of knock out victories.