Former bantamweight champion, Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt may have been forced from his UFC Fight Night Columbus homecoming against Raphael Assunção due to kidney issues in March, but that hasn’t forced the 28-year-old from planning a quite surprising route map for the year.
Garbrandt, who’s dropped his last three Octagon appearances via crushing knockouts, is still gunning for a rescheduling against Brazil’s Assunção – before a debut excursion a weight class lower at flyweight. The novel COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc among UFC events recently, but upon a return to as regular a schedule as possible, the former bantamweight best has a firm eye on “saving” the flyweight division – which he revealed in a recent interview with ESPN writer, Brett Okamoto.
“I never really cut weight going to 135 (-pounds),” Garbrandt said. “I’m looking at going to 125 (-pounds) – that’s what I want to go do. I’m young, I can do it – like I walk around at 145-pounds, you know. I think I got down to – sometimes after sparring sessions, 142 or 143 (-pounds). I’m still strong, fast for my weight. I can go and keep that at 125 (-pounds), so that’s the plan. Me and Ali (Abdelaziz) have spoken about doing this. First, we’re focused on Raphael (Assunção), that’s still the fight to make, and the fight next. Then you know, go down and really save the flyweight division.“
In terms of competition at 125-pounds, the title is still currently vacant despite Deiveson Figueiredo’s knockout of Joseph Benavidez in February. The Brazilian scored a second-round knockout against Benavidez, but tipped the scales at 127.5-pounds, making him ineligible to lift championship gold. Before the novel coronavirus pandemic, tentative plans were made for a rematch between Figueiredo and Benavidez later this year.
Garbrandt has recently split time for his training camp between his staple home Team Alpha MMA in Sacramento, and Mark Henry’s base in New Jersey. The explosive striker rose to prominence back in 2016 – via knockouts of Thomas Almedia, and Taekya Mizugaki before claiming the bantamweight title with a five-round shutout against the elusive, Dominick Cruz.
The Ohio native hasn’t experienced the best fortune in his three most recent outings, however. At UFC 217, Garbrandt dropped a second-round knockout to sworn enemy, T.J. Dillashaw, before again losing a rematch to the currently suspended Bang Muay Thai trainee. At UFC 235 last March, Garbrandt recklessly exchanged with Pedro Munhoz, finding himself on the wrong end of a third consecutive knockout.