Cruz Blasts “Punch-Drunk” Garbrandt

There are many competent trash-talkers in the current landscape of the UFC, but few can articulate venom better than bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Ahead of his UFC 207 title defense against Cody Garbrandt, Cruz is ramping up the insults towards yet another opponent from "Team Alpha Fail".

Garbrandt (10-0) trains at Team Alpha Male under Cruz’s longtime nemesis Urijah Faber. According to Cruz, Garbrandt’s affiliation to Faber is what earned him an early shot at the bantamweight title. Nevertheless, the matchup excites him more than a rematch with the disgruntled T.J. Dillashaw, as Garbrandt has been winning in flashy fashion and offering his own trash talk towards Cruz.

"Plain and simple, he’s not in the top-five of the division. And that’s my job, to go out there and prove it,” Cruz said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “He did talk himself into this fight, 100-percent, and now it’s my job to go out there and fight him. I want to fight him. I want to fight this man, and that’s why this fight is happening, because it sparks interest. There’s a beef there. This guy’s been running his mouth a lot, so my job is to go out there and shut it for him and show him why he’s nowhere near the level he think he is."

Garbrandt is undefeated in the UFC, winning four of his five fights by knockout. He has won three fights in 2016, including a first-round KO of the previously unbeaten Thomas Almeida and a knockout of Takeya Mizugaki in under a minute at UFC 202.

Cruz (22-1) looks forward to seeing what happens when an early knockout does not materialize for Garbrandt.

"He’s got knockouts on his record, yes, in the first round, yes, but so did Shane Carwin and we all saw what happened to him when he went out there and went past the first round, didn’t we?” Cruz said. “And that’s what this game is. This is a game where you have to be able to mix it up, and not just (fight for) one round and show how dominant you can be with your power.

“You have to have more than power. You have to have prowess. You have to have ring generalship. You have to understand how to mix things up in the clinch, in the takedowns, over-unders. You have to understand that when you’re on your back, how do I get back up without threatening myself? You have to understand how to keep it after you earn it. And a style where somebody’s been proven to only go three rounds, that’s a tough style to deal with when you’re fighting a guy like me."

The trash talk between Cruz and Garbrandt has been heated since before the fight was even announced, including personal attacks on social media. Asked if he has gotten into Garbrandt’s head, as many thought he did against T.J. Dillashaw, Cruz offered a predictably sharp response.

“I don’t think that he’s smart enough to know if that would even be possible,” Cruz said. “I honestly believe that. I think he’s literally about as smart as a rock. He’s had multiple concussions. If you look at any of the spelling that he does on any of his stuff, I mean, he wrote ‘plain’ as like a ‘plan.’ He just doesn’t have the intelligence to understand if somebody was in his head. All he knows is he’s either angry at you, or he’s cool with you, and that’s it. And that’s alright. If he wants to be angry with me, that’s fine. I applaud that. I look forward to it. It makes this thing more fun for me."

Cruz defeated Alpha Male leader Urijah Faber at UFC 199, settling a decade-long rivalry with his most dominant title defense to date. While that marked the end of the Cruz vs. Faber rivalry in the cage (Faber is set to retire after his next fight), Cruz knew that he would be dealing with another Alpha Male pupil sooner or later.

“They’re going to walk their way, talk their way into everything they can so the publicity gets behind it. If media gets behind it, it becomes real. If media doesn’t get behind it, nobody cares. So they just know to make it real with media, and that’s Faber’s tutoring helping the punch-drunk Cody ‘No Love.’”

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