Cody Garbrandt has been having a rough couple of years. He’s suffered multiple injuries, a bad case of long-haul COVID, and has gone 1-5 since 2017. It’s one of the biggest drop offs we’ve witnessed in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), especially when you consider the masterful performance he put on to defeat Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight belt in 2016.
Fans and press aren’t the only ones who are concerned about the drastic change of direction the career of “No Love” has taken. His uncle and long-time boxing coach, Robert Meese, is hopeful things can get turned around, but recognizes Garbrandt is in a dangerous position.
Meese trained Cody since he was child and shared his thoughts in an interview with Talksports.
“If Cody gets knocked out again, I am pretty sure his career is over,” he said. “But, Cody can come back, George Foreman hit a bump in his career and came back and he had more fun and made more money and won the Heavyweight title.”
Meese isn’t really touching on any new concerns when it comes to Garbrandt’s issues, but it’s interesting to hear someone who was inside Cody’s camp saying it out loud.
“So, Cody can come back, but he needs to learn fight defense, let your defense set up your offense,” Meese said. “He’s been stopped four times, but then look at the Rob Font fight he went all rounds with Rob. In terms of weight cutting, has he done damage to his body?”
Garbrandt most recently tried to revitalize his UFC career by moving down from Bantamweight to Flyweight. While he managed to cut down to 125 pounds and make weight well enough, he fell to a barrage of punches from Kai Kara France at UFC 269, losing just three minutes into the first round.
Meese offered his own experience with cutting weight and how it affected him on fight night.
“I can only speak about what I know,” he said. “I was preparing for a fight, and I had to cut extra weight at the last minute due to the opponent. So, I had to get down to a certain weight. Then the night of the fight I thought I was going to die. I cut so much weight it felt like Mike Tyson hit me.
“So, you’re really not going to know until the night of the fight how it feels to get hit at that weight,” Meese continued. “The real weight was 125 pounds but you’re not really doing any sparring at 125.”
Weight might be an issue, but Meese implied the big issue has been focus.
“Going into the T.J. fights we were concerned, because there was a change in Cody,” Meese said. “When Mike Tyson was knocking everybody out and then he lost he didn’t have that same fire, it happens to fighters.”
“Cody was missing shot combinations on the mitts in camp. I told him if he’s missing the mitts he will miss in the fight. We all knew Cody wasn’t at his best going into that fight, me, Urijah Faber, Chris Holdsworth ... we all knew.”
If Meese is right, it sounds like Garbrandt needs to rediscover his inner fire if he wants to turn things around. But, maybe that ability to reach the absolute peak of fighting was momentary, and he’ll never regain it again. Garbrandt’s rise to the top of the Bantamweight division was a wild ride.
Taking the belt off Dominick Cruz puts him in the history books. And even if he doesn’t pull off a second act, the first was something to behold.