There’ll only ever be one Conor McGregor. But there are lots of other potential types of superstars, and at one point UFC president Dana White had tapped Team Alpha Male standout Cody Grabrandt as the potential next big thing.
But then Garbrandt went from undefeated bantamweight champion to a mere mortal on a three fight losing streak -- all three coming via ugly knockouts to boot. The last of those was at the hands of Pedro Munhoz in March, and since then we haven’t heard too much from Garbrandt.
MMA Junkie caught up with him backstage at UFC Sacramento and learned he’s used time he needed to rehab a damaged hand and wrist to enjoy his newborn son. Now Garbrandt is medically cleared and planning a November comeback.
Part of that involved addressing the accusation that he keeps gets sucked into swang n’ bangs when it was his technical striking and moving that made him a UFC champion. In short, his Fight IQ kinda sucked.
According to Garbrandt, he’s fixed that issue.
“I know I’m way better than these guys, but I sometimes fight to their level when I bang it out,” he told MMA Junkie. “When I stick to my skills, my speed and do what I’ve done to become a world champion, no one in the world can match me. The main thing is just staying hungry, motivated and health is a huge factor in that. Being motivated to go in there and train.”
“Now it’s about being smart. I’m 28 years old and I feel like a lot of my best performances are ahead of me. It’s a marathon. A lot of these guys have not reached the pinnacle I have at an early age and the career and as many fights as I’ve had. So I’m still learning and growing and the hunger and motivation is there.”
As for who he wanted to face in his return? He’s got some ideas, and they all involve the top guys in the division.
“(I will fight) anyone in the top five can get it,” Garbrandt said. “I like all those fights. Even Dominick Cruz, that’d be a fun rematch. He hasn’t fought since I beat him and he’s out with a lot of injuries. Raphael Assuncao, there’s that Russian kid (Petr Yan). There’s so many dudes I would like to fight in the top. I truly believe I’m the best in the world and the fight game is so – one win erases all of that. I’m excited to just get back in there and show my skills.”
At 28, Garbrandt is no longer a spring chicken (especially considering all the 21 year old murderers rising in the ranks these days). But if he manages to stay locked into the fighting style that resulted in a masterful win over Dominick Cruz back in 2016, there’s no reason Dana White’s prediction can’t still pan out.