clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Spurned Bryan Caraway felt he was 'owed' UFC title shot over Cody Garbrandt

New, comments
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

NEW YORK – Amid the manic swirl of UFC 205 media day, former women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate had a strong gathering around her for a full hour asking about Saturday night's fight with Raquel Pennington. One of those who was in her orbit filming the action was bantamweight Bryan Caraway, her boyfriend and training partner, who is currently ranked No. 5 on the UFC's rankings.

After winning back-to-back fights over Eddie Wineland and Aljamain Sterling, Caraway has been vocal about wanting a title shot. Yet though he has tried to make his case, the UFC recently opted to book young Cody Garbrandt for the next crack at 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz, which is slated to take place at UFC 207 on Dec. 30.

Caraway is in limbo currently, waiting to find out his next move. But through his frustration, he says he's had an epiphany.

"The UFC is intelligent, and I have to come to terms that this is an entertainment business almost more than it is a sport," Caraway told MMA Fighting. "Garbrandt was the No. 8 ranked guy, and real quick they shuffle — as soon as he gets a title shot they shuffle and he's No. 5. I don't know. Garbrandt's super-talented, he's tough, but I mean, has he proven himself really? I mean, when he knocked out [Thomas] Almeida, Almeida hadn't beat a single guy in the top 10."

Caraway turned down a fight against Garbrandt back in June, hoping that he'd done enough for the title shot. Though he was passed over ultimately for Garbrandt — who fought Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 202 in August, and scored a 48-second TKO — Caraway says he respects the young Team Alpha Male fighter. It's just that he doesn't feel the decision to move Garbrandt in front of him bears merit.

"He's very talented and I'm not taking anything away from him, and I'm not saying Garbrandt can't win the title," he said. "But I feel like, I've been a veteran, I've been around for a long time. I just beat the No. 6 guy in Eddie Wineland. I out-struck him the whole fight, and he was supposed to be one of the best strikers in the division. I fought the best grappler in the division, supposedly, that's 12-0 in the division. I out-grapple him and beat him, and he's No. 4 and they're trying to hype him for a title, and at that moment I was ranked No. 3 — the highest-ranked guy that hadn't fought for a title. I thought for sure I would get it, I've been around this sport for a long time. I felt like I was owed it."

Caraway, who came up through The Ultimate Fighter franchise, has gone 6-2 since debuting against Dustin Neace in 2011. He dropped down to bantamweight in his second fight at UFC 149, where he dropped a split decision against Mizugaki. His only other loss in the UFC came against Raphael Assuncao in Oct. 2014.

Otherwise, he's been successful, which is why he believes there is more in play than simple wins and losses.

"I just realized I don't talk enough, or I don't talk enough sh*t," he said. "I don't know what it is. Maybe there's some bad media around because there's certain fights I couldn't take either due to injuries or family problems or whatever it was. They think that I don't like fighting, fans think that I don't fighting, they're crazy. If I don't fight, I don't get paid. I don't move up. So, I think I did enough to definitely get the title shot."

Talking has been one of Garbrandt's strengths, as he has lobbied for a fight with Cruz. He's also very active on social media.

"Garbrandt, he talks a lot of smack," Caraway said. "He's kind of young. He's got kind of a crazy style with all the tattoos, and whatever, he's got a good social media following right now. It is what it is. I'm just going to keep my head down right now and keep banging, be better not bitter and just really start fighting a lot in 2017."

Caraway sounded like he wanted to stay busy in 2017, and didn't want to wait out people's timetables.

"I love fighting," he said. "I've been fighting for a long time. Counting some of my underground old-school, I have over 44 MMA fights, some of them bare-knuckle fights. I'm not afraid to fight anybody. But, it is a sport, and there are politics, and it's the entertainment business, so you've got to be smart in that aspect as well."