Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight elites Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt will collide this Friday (Dec. 30, 2016) at UFC 207 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It’s pretty incredible on its own that Cruz returned from his myriad injuries, but capturing and defending the 135-pound title builds on that achievement even further. For the first time in a long time, Cruz will look to defend his strap against a new foe and prove that he’s still a step ahead of the competition.
Shockingly, it’s actually been less than two years since Garbrandt joined UFC’s ranks. He’s been able to climb the ranks so quickly thanks to his incredible power and athleticism, as Garbrandt tore through opponents so quickly that he’s already seen as threat to the champion.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Victories: T.J. Dillashaw (UFC Fight Night 81), Urijah Faber (UFC 132, UFC 199), Demetrious Johnson (UFC on Versus 6), Takeya Mizugaki (UFC 178)
Key Losses: Urijah Faber (WEC 26)
Keys to Victory: Cruz developed his own style of movement and fighting that is pretty unique to him. The evasive kickboxer moves constantly and picks his moments to strike, shoot or angle off extraordinarily well.
There’s a reason Cruz hasn’t lost in nearly a decade.
This bout will definitely be a test of Cruz’s defensive abilities. Garbrandt may not have his level of experience, but this is the first opponent Cruz has ever fought who throws good combinations with lethal power.
Distance will be key for Cruz. He’s going to want to work from the outside with a long jab and kicks, as denying his opponent from entering the pocket will be quite important.
Furthermore, frustrating Garbrandt should definitely be the champion’s goal. If he can get his foe to abandon strategy and lunge in, Cruz will have a far easier time of avoiding power shots and landing takedowns.
Key Wins: Thomas Almeida (UFC Fight Night 88), Takeya Mizugaki (UFC 202), Marcus Brimage (UFC 182), Augusto Mendes (UFC Fight Night 83)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Garbrandt is one of the nastiest finishers in Bantamweight history, as the boxer has landed nine knockouts in his 10 wins. To go alongside his amateur boxing background, Garbrandt was a very successful high school wrestler who has had little difficulty keeping fights on the feet thus far.
This is certainly a different type of opponent for Garbrandt. Just as Cruz knows that Garbrandt will stalk him and look to land the knockout, “No Love” is well-aware of the fact that Cruz wants to avoid exchanges and pick him apart from the outside.
It’s a real question of who will be able to employ his gameplan.
For Garbrandt, he needs to methodically walk down his man. Cruz may been an expert at circling off the fence, but Garbrandt’s tremendous athleticism will certainly help him catch up to Cruz so long as he waits for the right moment.
Perhaps most important is that Garbrandt does not chase the knockout too heavily. He has the power to end the bout at any instant, but he’s best served to break down his foe with combinations before looking to the kill shot.
Bottom Line: It’s a fascinating clash of styles with a belt on the line.
Already ranked as the second best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Cruz is really working to cement his legacy at this point. He’s won the title twice and defended it multiple times, and his story of recovery also helps solidify him as a legend of the sport.
Winning here against a fiery up-and-comer and possible future champion only adds to that resume.
On the other hand, it’s not clear where Cruz goes from here if he comes up short. Does he receive an instant rematch? Will Cruz recognize the toll that fighting has put on him and retire? Does he immediately begin a comeback trail towards the strap?
It’s hard to say.
As for Garbrandt, the closest example to someone in his situation is likely Chris Weidman ahead of his title shot with Silva. He may not have a ton of fights under his belt, but “No Love’s” potential and ability are undeniable. With a win, Garbrandt is primed for incredible success. Generally, the best fighters rise through the ranks of the regional scene quickly — which Garbrandt did in almost exactly two years — and do the same once inside the Octagon. A world championship in just four years of work as a professional would be pretty massive.
All that said, it could be too early for the rising contender. If he comes up short opposite Cruz, it’s a sign that he needs more experience and fights before getting another shot at the strap.
At UFC 207, Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt will battle for the strap in the co-main event. Which fighter will leave the Octagon strapped with gold?
Source:: mma mania