Just nine fights old in the UFC, former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt has seen it all in his career so far. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows, "No Love" has been through both extremes. Having exploded onto the MMA scene back in 2015, "No Love" was touted as one of the hottest bantamweight prospects when he joined the UFC.
The 28-year-old appeared invincible at the beginning of his UFC career, winning his first five fights with four devastating knockouts along the way and was booked against bantamweight legend and then-champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 207 in his first-ever UFC title fight. Cody Garbrandt showed up on the night, putting up what many still regard as his best performance inside the Octagon and methodically breaking down Cruz in the five-round battle, becoming the new king of the bantamweight division. Garbrandt had reached the pinnacle of the 135lbs division, running through everyone that stood in his way.
Just when it looked like things couldn't get any better for Cody, the tables started to turn. In a high-profile grudge match against former teammate T.J. Dillashaw, Garbrandt lost the much-coveted bantamweight title. Ten months later, with revenge on his mind, Garbrandt rematched Dillashaw in the headliner of UFC 227 in a fight that marked the beginning of his downfall. Eager to get the KO, Garbrandt overstretched himself and got caught by Dillashaw, getting finished via a first round TKO.
In what turned out to be his third loss in a row against Pedro Munhoz, Garbrandt had the upperhand in the contest early on but his over-eagerness cost him again as he got slept by Munhoz towards the fag end of the first round in a thrilling contest at UFC 235.
Fifteen months removed from that fight, Garbrandt is set to return in the co-headliner of UFC 250 against Raphael Assuncao. Ahead of his fight, Garbrandt spoke to MMA Fighting, and in an emotionally charged statement, No Love said that he loves fighting, its the only thing he knows best and he will fight to get back what was once his, the UFC bantamweight title. Garbrandt said that all this while, he had to battle his inner demons to convince himself to keep pushing and to keep picking himself up everytime he kissed dust and now he's finally ready to embark on the quest to recapture his lost throne, starting Saturday.
“Without fighting, I don’t think I would be as happy in this life. It’s not an option for me [to stop fighting]. I want to fight. I love to fight. It’s about finding that passion, that drive. Keeping that drive alive. Keeping that hunger alive. It was never chasing money. It was always being the best. That’s my quest to get back to the title. I wanted to be the best in the world. I worked towards that. Dreamed of that. That was what was pushing me. This sport is a marathon, not a sprint. Just like life. I’ve battled my demons. I’m here to take the throne again. Whoever that is when my time comes for another title shot, I’ll be ready. I’m going to capitalize on it. I’m going to hold onto this title until it’s time to walk away from this sport.”