For many mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, earning their way into Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) takes many years and dozens of fights.
Or, they simply never get to fight on that grand stage.
Luckily, Team Alpha Male-representative and blue-chip prospect Cody Garbrandt will never suffer that fate. Just two years and five fights into his professional career, "No Love" finds himself set to debut inside the world-famous Octagon at UFC 182.
It certainly helps that Garbrandt has finished each of his opponents via knockout in less than 20 minutes of total cage time.
In our exclusive interview, Garbrandt discusses his combat sports background, training with Team Alpha Male, and his fighting mentality.
Check it out:
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): First off, congratulations on earning your way into the UFC. I'd love to hear your thoughts on hitting this milestone so quickly. Do you think there are any advantages or disadvantages of getting the call up just five fights into your professional career?
Cody Garbrandt: Thank you. No, I mean, I'm young as in age and young in my career. I knew this day was coming. I had visions of being in the UFC from the beginning. So I have been preparing myself for this since the beginning, now it's time to go out and perform like I know I can.
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): Speaking of your next fight, how do you feel that you match up with Marcus Brimage?
Cody Garbrandt: I feel very comfortable with this fight. I like that he has a lot of UFC experience. When I finish him, it will put me up there where I belong.
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): As I understand it, you have a pretty lengthy amateur boxing background. Care to elaborate on that a bit and talk about how you got into combat sports?
Cody Garbrandt: Yes, I have had a very successful amateur boxing career. It helped me be comfortable in the cage and has opened up my MMA game to be confident to stand with anyone. Also, it hides how strong my wrestling is. I wrestled my whole life. I was a state champion in Ohio as a freshman and second as a sophomore then found boxing at the same time. I kind of lost my passion for wrestling and was more focused on fighting.
It was so pure.
My uncle was actually a very successful boxer as well and was an Olympic alternate in 1991. He would take me and my oldest brother to the gym, and we would kick the shit out out of each other. He has been my boxing trainer since day one. My mom got us into wrestling cause we were boys close in age, always fighting, so she wanted to get us into something that she thought would help us stop fighting each other.
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): How long have you been training with Team Alpha Male? Does representing such a successful fight team add to the pressure at all?
Cody Garbrandt: This will be my fifth fight representing Team Alpha Male. No extra pressure, this is where I wanted to be. I came out here, and nobody knew who I was at 1-0, and put in the time to get where I'm at. Now it's time to protect the house!
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): Positivity is definitely a major part of the training mindset at Alpha Male. Did you have to adapt that when you joined or was that mentality already a part of you?
Cody Garbrandt: Surrounding myself with these guys and seeing how they live, train, and hearing their stories of their struggles and how they got to where they are definitely helped me become mentally stronger and just grind it out. Hard work pays off... You hear that frequently out here. It's good to be reminded by hearing that.
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): I read that you want to build a legacy inside the UFC. Is there a specific message or statement you're trying to make with your performances and career?
Cody Garbrandt: I want to leave a legacy in this sport that has given me so much already, and this is only the beginning. It's my passion. It's honestly saved my life and gave me purpose. I'm fighting with a purpose, and everyone that watches me on fight night sees that I change in there. I like the feeling that I experience inside the cage. I feel sane.
I want people to remember me for being an entertainer, knowing whether I win or lose that I go out and put everything into it from the first round till the last. I want to be remembered like Gatti, my favorite boxer. I always want to be a positive role model and just give people hope that dreams do come true.
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): Getting away from the fight talk a bit, could you tell us the story of Maddux Maple and how you got involved with him?
Cody Garbrandt: Maddux was five years old when I met him; he was battling leukemia. My brother actually called me up and told me that I should do something for my next fight, so my next fight I donated all my ticket sales to his family to take a trip or to help out on medical bills. And that was kind of it, I gained a brother from it. I got to know them over the years, and he helped me so much seeing life at a different view. Here is a kid that fights for his life every day, and I chose to fight, so no matter how tired, sore, or beat up I was, I leaned towards him cause he couldn't take any days off. He is my motivation. He has been at my last seven fights and walks me to battle, sometimes so sick that it hurts him to stand, but we walk hand-in-hand to battle cause no one should ever have to fight that kind of battle alone. He will be in Vegas for my UFC debut with his 922 flag.
We both made promises to each other years ago. He would beat cancer, and I would make a name in the UFC, and we would do it together. GOD IS GOOD!
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): How did you get the "No Love" nickname?
Cody Garbrandt: My uncle gave me the nickname when I was 14. Just how I would spar, I'd show them no love and how I would fight. I don't glove touch. I don't shake hands. I'm in there to fight. We can be cool after the fight, but it's all business from the weigh-in till my hand is raised at the end of the fight.
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): As anyone with half-working eyes can see, you're pretty tattooed up. Do you have any favorites, or one that stands out as particularly meaningful?
Cody Garbrandt: Yes, I love artwork, getting tattooed is my therapy. I have a lot of meaning in my tats. I have Jesus on my left arm, all the glory to Him. I have twin city on my traps -- that's what we call my city -- I'm carrying them on my shoulders. I have my area code 922 tatted all over me. I love my hometown, really nothing back there, but it's a place I call home. I came from humble beginnings. I'll never forget my people who I fight for, myself mainly, but I fight for my people. They show me a lot of love.
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): Outside of training and fighting, what do you like to do with your free time in Sacramento?
Cody Garbrandt: I love going to get sushi and checking out other spots to eat at in Sacramento. There are some really good places to eat when I can. I'm big on froyo, and I love going to the movies and just hanging out with my boys on my team. They are my second family.
Andrew Richardson (MMAmania.com): Thanks Cody, I'm sure you've got plenty of people to thank. Let's hear it!
Cody Garbrandt: First and foremost, I thank the Lord for the ups and downs and keeping me level-headed. At times, I really needed him. My family for supporting me and letting me chase down this dream. My teammates, coaches, my friends, and fans for all the support throughout this journey. It's only the beginning.
Be sure to follow Cody on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, all at "Cody_NoLove" and watch his Octagon debut at UFC 182 on Jan. 3, 2015 live from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Finally, if you have any of your own questions for "No Love," post them in the comments section below. Cody will be dropping by in a short while to answer questions directly from MMAmania.com readers.