My Favourite Fighter: Cody Garbrandt
By Aidan O’Connor.
As I sit and think about who could possibly top the list of my all-time favourite fighters, the one that has the edge and has given me the most buzz, it really came down to one man. Although of recent fights he has not come out on top, his fighting style and self-belief really resonated with me.
Cody Garbrandt vs Dominic Cruz is in my top 3 all time favourite fights for certain and this comes from the pure confidence and showmanship that he exerted whilst fighting for the belt. He went into this fight as an underdog, Cruz being one of the greatest ever at his weight and wiping out a lot of fellow Team Alpha Male in the process. In this battle he tore Dominic apart piece by piece in a way that nobody would’ve expected. But this wasn’t a shock to Cody, he has always been supremely confident in his abilities and he knew that one day he would be fighting for the belt.
His actions outside of the ring were also something to be admired in my opinion, a young boy called Maddux Maple was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of just 5 years old and Cody was an amateur fighter but offered to pay towards his treatment. Little did he know at that time what a great connection he would make with the young boy and the drive that he would obtain from the vibrant spirit of a struggling child. Garbrandt at this time was getting into spots of bother, even being stabbed in a bar fight but he has said that Maddux helped put all his ambitions and focus into perspective.
The promise (or The Pact, as Garbrandt’s book is named) was that Cody would make it into the UFC, and then become champion, if Maddux could beat cancer. They both did just that, Maddux was entered remission in 2013 just 2 years after meeting the future champ. At this point Cody’s ambition was as great as ever, he knew that Maddux had kept to his end of the deal so that meant that he didn’t want to let the young man down.
A year and a half later Garbrandt made his debut in the bantamweight division, the first half of his promise was completed with a TKO victory over Marcus Brimage.
Fast forward almost 2 years later with an incredible 5 fight win streak, with most coming from stoppages, he had his shot against Cruz. The final part of his promise was ready to materialise.
Out he walks with Maddux by his side and completes an outstanding masterclass to silence his doubters, even dancing in the octagon numerous times. Finally winning the belt via unanimous decision. Garbrandt had completed his target. There was a beautiful moment in the octagon where he thanks Maddux and puts the belt around his waist, at this point he had captured the fans hearts as well as capturing the gold.