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UFC 227 card: TJ Dillashaw vs Cody Garbrandt 2 full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight knockout artists TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt will face off for the second time TONIGHT (Aug. 4, 2018) at UFC 227 inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Dillashaw lost his title by the slimmest of margins back in 2016, and his drive to recover the belt was immediately apparent. It took nearly two full years, but Dillashaw put together a trio of the victories — including a knockout win over Garbrandt — to secure the strap back in Nov. 2017. While Dillashaw was getting back into title contention, Garbrandt was destroying everyone put in front of him. A run of highlight reel finishes was capped off with an incredible performance opposite Dominick Cruz, and “No Love” captured his first title. He was unable to defend opposite Dillashaw, but the powers that be loved the match up so much that it was made once more.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man in the rematch:

T.J. Dillashaw
Record: 15-3
Key Wins: Cody Garbrandt (UFC 217), Renan Barao (UFC on FOX 16, UFC 173), Raphael Assuncao (UFC 200), John Lineker (UFC 207)
Key Losses: Dominick Cruz (UFC Fight Night 81), Raphael Assuncao (UFC Fight Night 29)
Keys to Victory: There are few better examples of the right match up between coach and fighter than Dillashaw and Duane Ludwig. “Bang” Ludwig turned Dillashaw from a menacing wrestler with a nice right hand into one of the sport’s finest kickboxers, one who bases his attack on feints and switched stances.

Last time out, Ludwig also gave Dillashaw some critical advice between the first and second round: rather than try to set up every kick (which forced Dillashaw to try to punch in Garbrandt’s range), it was okay to blast naked kicks too. Moments later, a left high kick with little setup slipped through the guard of his foe, rocking Garbrandt and changing the course of the fight.

Expect more naked high kicks from Dillashaw.

Alongside those kicks, working the counter might be a smart move for the champion. Both men can lead or counter but arguably do their best work against foes advancing, but Dillashaw’s kicking game can force Garbrandt off a defensive game.

Cody Garbrandt
Record: 11-1
Key Wins: Dominick Cruz (UFC 207), Thomas Almeida (UFC Fight Night 88), Takeya Mizugaki (UFC 202), Augusto Mendes (UFC Fight Night 83)
Key Losses: T.J. Dillashaw (UFC 217)
Keys to Victory: A ridiculously heavy puncher with exceptional speed, Garbrandt is among the slickest boxers on the roster. He’s stopped a majority of his foes, and “No Love” has knocked down every opponent he’s ever faced at least once.

Garbrandt found definite success in the first fight, winning a majority of the exchanges in the first round and dropping Dillashaw. However, his volume was really low, as Garbrandt largely fought on the counter. As a result, Dillashaw — a very creative and smart fighter — was able to take his time and see what worked.

Eventually, he found something.

This time around, I’d like to see Garbrandt more active while still focusing on the counter. Not every bit of activity has to be a full offensive blitz, but a few more jabs or short combinations finished with kicks at range would help prevent Dillashaw from finding his rhythm.

Bottom Line: It’s still an exceptional match up.

Despite his great talent and exciting style, Dillashaw remains underappreciated by the UFC itself. Simply compare his and Garbrandt’s route back to the strap: Dillashaw was forced to fight two very tough contenders, whereas Garbrandt’s chance at revenge was immediate. With a win here, Dillashaw shuts down one of the most dangerous contenders to his throne, which helps his title reign look more permanent and could set up that match up with “Mighty Mouse.”

If he comes up short, Dillashaw deserves a trilogy match, but who knows if he’ll actually receive one given the currently odd state of matchmaking.

As for Garbrandt, this is a chance at redemption. No matter how true his issue of injuries may be in the first bout, it’s equally true that that these things are quickly forgotten by the public: only the end result is remembered. Beyond all the personal beef and hype, this is Garbrandt’s chance to prove himself the best Bantamweight and regain his title. That’s plenty motivating on its own — the rest is noise. Should Garbrandt come up short, he’ll be forced to take out a few contenders before earning another title shot.

At UFC 227, T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt will rematch in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?

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