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Alonso: Still Love for No Love?

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Is Cody “No Love” Garbrandt done as a contender due to his last loss to Rob Font? That is the question on many peoples’ minds. Is the question justified? Let’s go down the list on why Garbrandt (12-4) is and isn’t done as a contender.

First things first, “No Love” was scheduled to fight for the flyweight championship last fall but COVID-19 derailed the scheduled matchup.

However, that title fight was not earned. It was an opportunity that no man would decline and here is why it was not earned. Garbrandt has never fought at 125 pounds in the UFC.

Aside from never competing at flyweight, he is 1-4 in his last four contests with all three losses coming by way of knockout.

Obviously, “No Love” came back into the spotlight after his knockout of the year contender against Raphael Assuncao which led to his flyweight title shot before COVID-19 disrupted his plans.

Yet, the spotlight didn’t last, because in his return he lost a pretty lopsided battle against Rob Font in the main event of UFC Fight Night this past May. He seemed tentative throughout the entire bout, something we are not used to seeing. He showed a similar style against Assuncao, but Font was a completely different animal.

All of this suggests Garbrandt is nowhere near a title shot or a big money fight. Not only that, but it clearly shows he isn’t the same former champion. It’s hard to come back from losing three times in a row by knockout and it stings even more knowing two of those losses were because of pure recklessness. This can account for the change in style, but what good is the change if Garbrandt doesn’t even seem comfortable with his new style?

In the Font fight, he hesitated to take chances especially when he knew he was down on the scorecards. He was on the backfoot the entire time, but a lot of that credit has to go to Font.

Nevertheless, another example of Garbrandt showing uncertainty was in the Assuncao fight. The Brazillian standout is a great bantamweight, although he is not on the same level as Garbrandt on the feet. “No Love” was the much quicker fighter and definitely had the power advantage in his hands, which was shown in that mind boggling knockout last year, yet the fight was still closer than it should have been.

Be that as it may, the former bantamweight champion hasn’t shown his old championship form in quite some time. Having only one win since 2017, is usually enough to be given your walking papers in the UFC.

Yet, the UFC doesn’t follow the “ordinary” rules all the time.

The former bantamweight champion has accomplished a lot in his career and with those accomplishments came popularity. What does popularity bring to the UFC? MONEY!

His vicious beatdown of Thomas Almeida in under a round signaled his arrival. Then he capped it off two fights later with a once in a lifetime performance against arguably the greatest bantamweight of all time Dominick Cruz to become champion. His swagger was at an all time high and the UFC capitalized on it with his rivalry with TJ Dillashaw.

Afterwards, his career went on an awkward trajectory. But, seeing how quickly he was given a title shot with his solo win over the previously mentioned Assuncao, it shows he is nowhere near done as a contender. The UFC understands what they have with him.They have a bantamweight, or flyweight in the near future, who can deliver thunderous knockouts, has the style and looks to be welcomed into the GQ brand and owns the charisma inside the octagon.

Don’t be surprised if they put him in against someone like Marlon Moraes or Jimmie Rivera where he can capture another highlight reel finish. Or if he decides to truly move down in weight, they may put him in with someone such as Kai Kara France which will deliver an exciting showcase and will likely result in a knockout victory IF AND ONLY IF we see a better version of the new Garbrandt style. A spectacular win in opposition of one of the aforementioned fighters almost guarantees him another top spot whether that be as a bantamweight or flyweight.

And don’t forget, Garbrandt is a popular fighter with a big social media following. He’s already had an exchange with the infamous Jake Paul, which can always result in a big money fight in boxing, his original sport.

Names in the UFC that receive notoriety due to their popularity are Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. What kind of benefits do they reap? McGregor goes and boxes Floyd Mayweather in one of the biggest events ever in combat sports. While Diaz goes on to create his own trophy, the BMF belt which was showcased in one of the biggest events of the year in 2019 for the UFC.

Garbrandt isn’t on their level and will probably never reach it, but there is certainly a second tier measure of popularity in the UFC. Garbrandt is one of the top stars in that tier.

Titles or no titles, Garbrandt is going to be fine in the long run because of who he was and who he will evolve into with the help of coach Mark Henry. Expect Brucer Buffer to be introducing Cody “No Love” Garbrandt for many more main events in the future with even having one of those events ending in “And New!”

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