Garbrandt Ready to “Break Cruz’s Jaw”

Cody Garbrandt has been preparing to fight Dominick Cruz for most of his life. Now that the heavy-hitter is on the brink of his long-awaited title shot, he and Cruz have been engaging in an increasingly heated war of words. Garbrandt, buoyed by the confidence of three straight knock outs, believes Cruz will suffer the same fate as his previous foes.

Garbrandt and Cruz will fight for the bantamweight title in the co-main event of UFC 207, which is headlined by the return of Ronda Rousey. There will be more eyes on this fight than any in Garbrandt’s past, and he is prepared to make the most of the opportunity.

The greatest bantamweight in history, Cruz (22-1) regained the belt he lost to injuries this year and regained his spot atop the division. He and Garbrandt have gone back and forth in the media, in person, and even online — they recently exchanged pleasantries in the comments of Garbrandt’s girlfriend’s Instagram. Garbrandt knows that Cruz is doing all he can to get into his head, but the Ohio native is a born fighter and won’t be phased by Cruz’s attacks.

"I’m not new to this," Garbrandt said on The Luke Thomas Show on Sirius XMRush. "This is fine, I use this as fuel to the fire. Dominick was first trying to get under my skin with the daddy issues comment – and that’s his insecurities coming out. He comes from a similar background – single mother – so I feel bad for the guy. He’s full of insecurities and so he’s prying and prying and picking and picking trying to get under my skin."

In Cruz’s last fight, he defended his title against old foe Urijah Faber at UFC 199. Garbrandt, a teammate of Faber’s at Team Alpha Male, watched in disdain as Cruz outclassed Faber across five rounds.

Two months later at UFC 202, Garbrandt knocked out Takeya Mizugaki in under a minute and called Cruz out on the microphone. It was the third knockout victory of the year for the breakout star, having stopped Augusto Mendes and Thomas Almeida in 2016 as well.

A win over Cruz, the champion and one of the sport’s pound-for-pound greats, would put Garbrandt in discussion for Fighter of the Year.

"I think I should be Fighter of the Year," Garbrandt said. "I go from unranked to world champion in one year. Before I got in the UFC, I wrote down on a piece of paper a goal that I was going to make it to the UFC in 2015 and then I’ll be the world champion before 2017 so I’m right on track. I pull out that piece of paper all the time and look at it. It’s motivation…

"So that’ll be nice, fighter of the year. I think I deserve it. Dominick is one of the top bantamweights, top fighters in the world and obviously with my progression throughout my fights I’m finishing fighters faster and faster and faster each fight…So if they want to give my fighter of the year after I dismantle Dominick Cruz I’ll be happy to accept the award."

Garbrandt’s confidence ahead of a fight with Cruz is palpable in his voice. While Cruz is the most elusive fighter he has ever faced, and possibly the most elusive in the sport’s history, Garbrandt has faith that his right hand will hand. If it does, and it puts Cruz away, Garbrandt, 25, will break Jon Jones’s record as the youngest fighter to win a UFC championship. However, records aren’t what Cody Garbrandt is focusing on.

"I’m focused on just breaking one thing and that’s Dominick’s jaw."

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