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UFC 207's Cody Garbrandt has been thinking about a fight with Dominick Cruz since he was a kid


The way Cody Garbrandt is looking at his title shot next week against Dominick Cruz, he’s fulfilling a destiny.

Garbrandt (10-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC), now 25, was just 18 when Cruz (22-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) won the WEC’s bantamweight title in 2010. Cruz became the UFC’s first 135-pound champion after the WEC and UFC merged.

Injuries have kept Cruz from defending the title as often as he’d have liked – and even caused him to be stripped of the belt, forcing him to win it back earlier this year against T.J. Dillashaw. But he’s widely regarded as the best bantamweight in history.

That’s a bit of lore Garbrandt, who trains at the same Team Alpha Male camp Cruz has famously bickered with, is trying to ignore heading into UFC 207, which takes place Friday, Dec. 30, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

“It’s another fight for me,” Garbrandt said. “It’s a lifetime goal, and I’m going to accomplish it. I know my responsibilities on Dec. 30. Staying focused was the main goal this camp – staying focused in (the gym), logging in the time, logging in the hours and the rounds, knowing that every day was closer to the belt. It was champ camp. I’m hungry and motivated every day waking up knowing that one day is a day closer to being a world champion.”

He said fighting Cruz is something he’s thought about since those WEC days. After all, Garbrandt has been a professional fighter for only four years – he wasn’t even a pro yet when Cruz was defending the title in the WEC.

But that’s where the destiny thing comes in to play.

“I’ve had him in my mind since I was a teenager (thinking of) being a world champion,” Garbrandt said. “He was the WEC champion. And it’s my time now, and he’s the champion. You can’t fight fate. It’s my destiny and my fate to be a world champion. He’s just going to be on the receiving end of an ass-whupping.”

Cruz is more than a 2-1 favorite against Garbrandt, who has won four of his first five UFC fights by knockout, including three straight in the first round. Cruz has the experience factor working for him, but that didn’t seem to matter to Garbrandt when he fought Takeya Mizugaki in August and stopped him in the first round. Or when he handed Thomas Almeida the only loss of his career – by knockout, despite Almeida having more than twice as many fights as him.

Garbrandt said the best camp of his career has him primed and ready to upset the champ, which would make him the UFC’s youngest non-interim titleholder.

“It’s the first camp of the year that I’m injury-free going in,” Garbrandt said. “The weight’s good, and I’m mentally and physically as strong as healthy and strong as I can be.”

For more on UFC 207, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.



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