Former Team Alpha Male coach Justin Buchholz thinks Cody Garbrandt has failed to return to the level that saw him dethrone Dominick Cruz at UFC 207.
Buchholz was a spectator at Saturday night’s UFC 227 event at the Staples Center, where he watched two of his former training partners, T.J. Dillashaw and Garbrandt, engage in a rematch. Dillashaw bettered his first showing against “No Love”, finishing him in the second round of their bantamweight title clash.
Speaking to the Slip ’n Dip podcast following the event, Buchholz claimed that he doesn’t think Garbrandt was trained to the level that he had been for his first title shot in December 2016, when Buchholz was still featured amongst the coaching staff of Team Alpha Male.
“I feel like Cody…to reach the level that he was when he won the belt…he was the best martial artist on the planet then because of the amount of training and work he did and it showed in his performance,” said Buchholz. “I feel like he hasn’t been able to reach that level again. I feel like he has all the talent. T.J. doesn’t have his number at all, but with proper training it’s anyone’s game.”
Buchholz puts the finishing sequence of the fight down to a lack of cardio for Garbrandt, rather than a lack of technical ability.
“T.J. was saying that Cody drops his left hand when he throws his right hand, that’s the shot he caught him with. Well, it was the same hand, but it was a completely different punch. In the first fight, T.J. landed the right hook from southpaw,” he explained.
“In the fight last night, he just hit him with a right hand. He just rolled with the right and came back with the right. He did a lot of boxing for this fight and he was prepared for that inside fight range. He knew when Cody was throwing hard he would be exposed and he was right, it was pretty masterful game plan.
“I feel like Cody Garbrandt properly conditioned is…because the hands down are something he got away with for a long time because of his speed and his reflexes. I feel like that’s based a lot on conditioning as well. To be able to know where you’re heads at and to be able to have reflexes the more tired you get. I think the defensive thing is a technical issue for sure, but it’s also a training issue; a cardio issue.”
Although Dillashaw believes he is the greatest bantamweight ever following the win, Buchholz believes he would have to win a rematch against his former foe, Cruz, to lay claim to that status.
“[Dillashaw] has a good claim of being the greatest 135er to ever do it, but that’s still held by Dominick Cruz. If he has that rematch with Dominick Cruz, the winner of that is the best.”