Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC
In the main event of Sunday night’s UFC Fight Night 88, Team Alpha Male’s Cody Garbrandt sought to crack Thomas Almeida’s pristine 21-0 record. Neither the fight’s betting odds nor the fans seemed to give the 24-year-old much chance on this mission.
In the end, however, Garbrandt succeeded in the biggest way possible, flattening his fearsome foe with a rocket-fuelled right hand just 2:53 into round one.
With this emphatic win, the 24-year-old Garbrandt has established himself as one of the very best bantamweights on earth. Provided he keeps winning, he also looks like he could emerge as one of the division’s bigger stars, as he is just the kind of telegenic action-fighter that the fans will tune in to watch. What comes next for the surging bantamweight contender, however, is not especially clear. While Garbrandt has stressed that he’d like to compete at UFC 203, which will go down in his home state of Ohio on September 10, it’s hard to say who his next dance partner might be.
So, let’s weigh the options.
The most obvious next step for Garbrandt is probably Bryan Caraway, a top-10 fighter who also won big at Fight Night 88, taking a close decision from previously unbeaten prospect Aljamain Sterling. Yet it would not be surprising to see UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby steer clear of this potential booking. With his defeat of Sterling, Caraway proved himself as a capable prospect-killer. If Caraway and his ugly-but-effective style were to end Garbrandt’s streak too, which is entirely possible, the bantamweight division would have gone from three undefeated contenders to none in the span of a few months. This would be bad for business, and of course, the UFC is a business. Yes, while a bout with Caraway is certainly possible for Garbrandt, its probably more ….View full article