Former Bantamweight champion Cody “No Love” Garbrandt will be making his Flyweight debut on Dec. 11 at UFC 269. Who will be welcoming him to the division? The answer is Kai Kara-France, an explosive striker with serious power at 125 lbs.
The City Kickboxing product is coming off a walk off KO win against slick grappler Rogerio Bontorin. He demonstrated in that fight why his nickname is “Don’t Blink” as he stole the show with just 5 seconds left in the first round.
Many MMA fans are interested to see if fighting at a lower weight class can rejuvenate Garbrandt’s career. After winning the Bantamweight strap in 2016, he was knocked out in three consecutive fights; TJ Dillashaw x2 and Pedro Munhoz. He looked to be back in style with a “KO of the Year” candidate finish over Raphael Assuncao. However, this was short lived and in his next bout, he was outclassed by top bantamweight Rob Font.
During the pandemic, Garbrandt contracted Covid. It hit him extremely hard however and was left not being able to train for weeks. This ultimately pushed him out of his originally scheduled Flyweight debut, a title shot against then champion Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 255. When he finally did get back in the gym, he didn’t feel like himself. Along with Covid, Garbrandt contracted vertigo, a brutal case of pneumonia, and blood clots. Garbrandt also had a kidney infection that pushed his fight with Assuncao from March 2020 back to June.
Fans are intrigued to see how he can hold up in the smaller weight class with someone who has such incredible power. If Cody’s health issues have been resolved, his speed, which is one of his greatest attributes, should be back intact. Cody is widely regarded across MMA for being the quickest in the octagon, with his hands, his head movement, and in wrestling scrambles. This is what helped propel him to victory over Dominick Cruz to obtain UFC gold.
How Can He Come Back?
Look for Cody to attack the legs, early and often. This is one of the areas of success he had against Font in their bout. He had to stop using them in order to focus on defending himself, but they worked when he threw them. Ever since working with Mark Henry, head movement has been a priority for Garbrandt when it had previously been left to his natural speed to get out of the way of strikes.
If Cody can maintain his composure and not get into a firefight (and even implement some wrestling) he should have a win over Kai. Given that the weight cut is not too much of an issue, Cody looks to make a new title run in hopes of jumping back on top of the sport once again. Being only 29 years old gives fans hope that someday Cody will reclaim gold. Watch UFC 269 on ESPN+ on Dec. 11.
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