Dominick Cruz wasn’t Neo, after all. At least not according to Cody Garbrandt.
Garbrandt didn’t feel like he got the Cruz people talked about at UFC 207, at least in terms of speed and quickness. The new UFC bantamweight champion, who took the belt off Cruz with a unanimous decision victory Friday night in Las Vegas, was actually pretty surprised.
“I was really just curious to see his speed, his angles,” Garbrandt said at the post-fight press conference. “Everyone believed the hype of him being … he’s The Matrix, he’s a ghost in there. He’s great. I’m not taking nothing away from him, but I was almost in shock he was as slow as he was in his movements and his angles weren’t there.”
Garbrandt, 25, said the tide began to turn after a close beginning of the fight when what he believed was a knee opened up a cut near Cruz’s left eye.
“That’s when it changed right there,” Garbrandt said. “He didn’t like that blood running down his face. That’s when I said, ‘Dominick, are you having fun yet?’ And he didn’t answer me. In the first and second round, he would answer me back each time. That’s right then, I knew that he wasn’t having fun in the fight.”
Cruz, 31, had not lost a bout since 2007, when he was defeated in WEC by Garbrandt’s mentor Urijah Faber. Garbrandt gave a lot of credit to Faber and his coaches at Team Alpha Male for the victory.
Garbrandt (11-0) has has a meteoric rise. As he noted in the press conference, he began 2016 as an unranked bantamweight and now he’s the champion of the division. For someone unheralded not too long ago, Garbrandt was sure very confident against Cruz (22-2), who ruled 135 for so long.
“No Love” did some dancing in the Octagon and plenty of taunting and showboating. He turned the tables on Cruz’s pre-fight trash talk by clowning him during the fight.
“I was just living in the moment,” Garbrandt said. “I was just having fun out there and enjoying it. It was a great fight. I had so much fun in there. He’s a great sh*t talker. He knows a lot of good words. He speaks well. Sh*t, I couldn’t read until I was in the third grade. I barely graduated high school. I knew what I was getting into with him. I knew I couldn’t let his words and his trash talk get me emotional in there.”