Cruz Picks Garbrandt to Beat Dillashaw

Few fights are harder to predict that Cody Garbrandt’s upcoming title defense against TJ Dillashaw, but if one person’s opinion holds weight on the matter, it’s former champ Dominick Cruz.

Cruz, who fought both Garbrandt and Dillashaw in 2016, is picking the current champ to retain his title.

In one of the most inspiring comebacks in the sport’s history, Cruz returned from yet another devastating knee injury to recapture his bantamweight title in January of last year, beating Dillashaw by split decision. He went on to defend the belt in a shutout win over Team Alpha Male leader Urijah Faber, before losing to another TAM fighter in Garbrandt in December.

Appearing on the MMA Hour, Cruz said that he believes the intense trash talk from Garbrandt and Dillashaw’s other former Alpha Male teammates is one of the main reasons he is picking Dillashaw to lose in July.

“I think Cody wins,” Cruz said. “Because I think that what’s happening with that whole situation, being involved on TUF Talk and seeing what’s going on, talking to (Duane) Ludwig, talking to Dillashaw, talking to Cody, talking to certain people as I move through the sport and do this analyst gig, I think this beef really is Faber’s beef. And I think Cody will pretty much listen to Faber. If Faber told him to jump off a bridge headfirst, he would do it.

“He’s fighting Faber’s fight for him, plus TJ’s up for the belt, so it makes it even easier for Cody to just say, ‘eff you, TJ,’ plus, ‘my favorite mentor and coach, dad, uncle, whatever you want to call him, hates you too, so I really hate you.’”

Though Garbrandt beat Cruz, which Dillashaw was unable to do, the former champ does believe there are avenues to victory for Dillashaw if he can mix up his attack enough. But ultimately, the fight game is mostly a mental struggle and Cruz believes that is the area in which Dillashaw will meet his downfall.

“I think stylistically, TJ has the technique and the tools to beat a guy like Cody,” Cruz said. “He kicks fluently, he mixes his punches and kicks. Cody has the edge in the power in the pocket, but TJ can make up the pocket work with kicks, movement, and angles, and he’s kicking a little bit more than I did against Cody, so I think that will play to his advantage. But as for the mental game, I think the fact that TJ is facing that whole camp, not just Cody Garbrandt, I think that’s really wearing on TJ. I think it’s going to keep wearing on him. I think the mental is what gets him beat against Cody.”

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