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Underdog Cody Durden tallies a draw in UFC Debut

Photo: The referee raises both fighters’ hands to signal a draw. (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

On August 1, Bantamweight Cody Durden made his UFC debut against Chris Gutierrez on only one weeks’ notice at UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan.

Although he did not win his debut, Durden still came out on top in other ways; this was the first draw in a UFC fight since March 14.

Despite being a +250 underdog according to Vegas, Durden defied the odds even when they were stacked against him.

“If you look at it, everything was against me,” Durden said. “I didn’t have time to prepare. I had so much to do. It was just hectic and a bit overwhelming. I wasn’t really worried about the odds.”

With less than a week before the biggest fight of his career, Durden had to enroll in USADA, take various tests and medical exams in addition to completing copious amounts of paperwork, all so he could become an official UFC fighter.

The time-consuming and chaotic process was all just background noise though, and he knew that it was all building up to one moment: stepping into the Octagon.

“It was kind of surreal,” Durden said. “Everything happened so fast. I fought July 18, and then I celebrated the whole week. I was getting back to training Saturday…and I got the call. I didn’t have time to process it.”

The first round saw Durden coming out strong. He was able to notch a takedown and held Gutierrez down for a majority of the round. Durden out-struck his opponent 57-3 in the first five minutes alone. This led to a 10-8 round win for Durden by all three judges.

This total control that Durden set in the first round set granted him an advantage, on top of a rare 10-8 score for a three-round bout.

“I was real confident going in,” Durden said. “I didn’t have anything to lose. I came out and dominated the first round. That’s eventually what led to the draw. My mentality is to kill or be killed. I have to learn to pull back some.”

This confidence proved to be crucial, as the unanimous 10-8 scoring would later trigger a draw. Gutierrez again took the reins. Although Durden landed some heavy shots and attempted several takedowns as well,

Gutierrez defended the takedown and landed some devastating leg kicks.

Gutierrez won his last bout via leg kick TKO, so Durden knew he had to be careful.

“He’s got a hell of a kick,” Durden said. “Even though I was checking them, I could still feel them. That leg kick is something serious.”

Durden said that his legs were completely shot by the time the third round came. Although he was still able to apply pressure, his ability to push the pace and tally takedowns was diminished.

Durden also had to contend with Gutierrez’s large stature, another factor that had served Gutierrez well in his experience in both Bantamweight and Featherweight.

“He was just massive,” Durden said. “He was a big, big Bantamweight. There’s no doubt about it that he is very skilled.”

The fight on August 1 marked the first time in UFC history a unanimous draw occurred without any point deductions. Although Durden may have preferred a win, being a part of UFC history is a victory in itself.

“I think it’s cool,” Durden said. “It’s kind of like ‘wow, I’ll take it.’”

Durden says that he would like to fight again in 2020 if possible. There are many uncertainties that may change those plans, but all we know is that we’ll be keeping an eye out for him in the meantime.

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