Cody Garbrandt defends his UFC bantamweight title for the first time against former champion and ex-teammate T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 217 on November 4th, 2017 at the Madison Square Garden in New York.
No Love Lost
Garbrandt’s nickname is ‘No Love’ and there is absolutely no love lost between these two former Team Alpha Male teammates. It can be recalled that Dillashaw left Team Alpha Male during his peak and title reign while Garbrandt won the belt from Dominick Cruz, the man who narrowly defeated Dillashaw in 2016.
These two former friends and now bitter rivals were originally slated to fight at UFC 213, but after Garbrandt suffered a back injury in May, it was rebooked for the MSG event on November 4th, 2017. It may no longer be the main event of its new schedule but it’s a fight that could steal the thunder from the entire event.
Both fighters have expressed their intention to book a superfight with UFC flyweight king Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson so that should be an added motivation to win this fight. More than that, though, it’s pride and hate that drives these two elite bantamweights against each other.
Recipe For A Classic
The champion Garbrandt is the obvious favorite (-185 at Bovada) against the ex-champion Dillashaw, who is currently at +150. It doesn’t get any better than this. These are two of the best fighters in the bantamweight division and they absolutely hate each other. You can’t really find a better recipe for a UFC classic.
Dillashaw has the longer reach and the versatility as a fighter but Cody Garbrandt has the edge in power and athleticism. Both fighters can push the pace for five rounds – no doubt about that – so this could very well go the distance.
In terms of numbers, Dillashaw has the edge, as he lands 5.38 significant strikes per minute, compared to Garbrandt’s 3.58. He also has the slight edge in accuracy at 41% vs 37%.
T.J. also has the better grappling stats with an average of 1.8 takedowns per 15 minutes as compared to Garbrandt’s 1.19. But the most important stat in this match should be Garbrandt’s 82% knockout ratio.
Power is Difference Maker
The champion has stopped 9 of 11 opponents with three of his last four victories coming by way of first round knockout. No doubt Dillashaw is an elusive target who is hard to hit much more knock out, but the same was said of Dominick Cruz before Cody Garbrandt pick Cruz apart at UFC 207.
Garbrandt has shown few weaknesses so far but Dillashaw being a former teammate may know some things that we don’t which he can exploit. Otherwise, it’s hard not to pick Cody Garbrandt in this match-up. Dillashaw might want to take this fight to the ground to negate Cody’s power punches but Garbrandt has superb takedown defense.
On the feet, this should be an equal battle but Garbrandt’s power should be the difference maker here. We’re going with the champion Cody Garbrandt to win by a close unanimous decision.