Cody Garbrandt didn't have to wait long to hear the latest salvo from UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Just days after Garbrandt scored a 48-second knockout over Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 202, Cruz appeared on The Dan Le Batard show and criticized Garbrandt's UFC résumé, promising to prove that the Team Alpha Male product is "not even deserving to be in the top-five" of the 135-pound rankings if the two end up meeting inside the cage.
"My response to his critiquing is that he's a little b*tch, first off," Garbrandt said Monday on The MMA Hour. "And he's scared. I went up to him before the fight, we walked in, we're getting security patted down. He's was sitting around there. I just went up to him and let him know, hey, I'm going to knock Takeya out and then you're next. And you should've seen how scared that dude was. He was looking around to see if security was going to break it up.
"And he wants to bring up daddy issues and this and that? He was so scared that his voice was squeaking out like a little b*tch when he was trying to talk sh*t back to me. Oh man, it was hilarious. I felt the energy of how scared he was, and he's a dead man when I lock horns with him. It's just a matter of time."
Garbrandt and Cruz ultimately shared a moment for the public later in the night, as cameras highlighted Cruz's reaction to Garbrandt's impressive victory over Mizugaki on the FOX Sports 1 prelims. Neither interaction grew physical though, as Garbrandt said he and Cruz were separated by security earlier in the day, then were great lengths away from each other for the post-fight callout.
"Him getting physical? He's never gotten physical," Garbrandt said. "When does he ever get physical? That guy is b*tch-made.
"I said just get ready for it. You can't run. I said, I should slap you right now, you're lucky I got a fight. And he just was trembling in fear. I could feel his body radiating fear from me. I felt bad for the guy. He was, he literally had fear. I could see it, I could feel it off him. I can judge someone by body language and eyes. He was scared, looking around like security will come stop this, will you come get this animal out of here, can you get this savage away from me. And that's he's going to be trying to do: run in there. Reebok should give him a pair of shoes just to run full-time in the fight.
"I think he gave [security] a couple hundred bucks and told him thanks for breaking that up, so he could go on FOX and look all pretty and talk all his sh*t," Garbrandt added. "He didn't want to get beat up."
It was not lost on Garbrandt that he managed to one-up Cruz with his victory over Mizugaki at UFC 202. Cruz infamously smashed through Mizugaki in 61 seconds back in Sept. 2014, only to have Garbrandt best that time by 13 seconds with his ferocious finish of the Japanese veteran on Saturday night.
Afterward, Cruz pointed out that the fight was actually a step down in competition for Garbrandt after his first-round victory over Thomas Almeida in May, although Garbrandt dismissed that idea.
"Him critiquing me, saying that I'm going back in the rankings, I don't understand that," Garbrandt said. "I could see if I had a horrible performance with Takeya. I knocked that dude out faster than you knocked him out. I beat him faster than you beat him, and you're going to sit there and critique me?
"I heard in an interview that he gets hit 30-percent (of the time), he has a 30-percent chance of hitting me. Dude, you give me a one-percent chance of finding your chin, I'm knocking you the f*ck out. That's plain and simple. I got a 90-perecent knockout rate. You want to talk about statistics? That's what he talks about, stats. That's numbers, buddy. He wants to talk about numbers because he's a point fighter, and point fighters go off numbers and points. I'm a knockout artist and he's going to be on the receiving end of a vicious knockout."
The UFC has yet to indicate whether a title fight is next for Garbrandt, though it seems to make sense considering the growing heat between the undefeated 25-year-old and Cruz. Garbrandt said that he hasn't heard one way or the other about a title shot from the UFC brass, but he hopes that his rising star and string of impressive victories affords him an opportunity to approach the negotiation table and hammer out a new deal with the UFC that improves upon the paltry $27,000/$27,000 show/win split he earned at UFC 202.
"We need to change that," Garbrandt said. "I want some big money. I feel like I'm a good ticket-seller. I enjoy it, I enjoy the whole fight week, the training. I say I'm a fighter and that's what I enjoy, so I'd like to get paid my worth and I think that's come. I trust the UFC and the people who are behind it who are going to definitely make that right, and that's all I can hope for. Then get back to the gym, get back to the grind and get this world title, because it's been a dream of mine since I was a teenager and I'm right there.
"[Cruz] is just adding fuel to the fire and I'm really going to go out there and break his jaw, and I stay behind everything I say. I back up everything I say 100-percent and this is going to be no different."
Garbrandt added that his recent interactions with Cruz have changed the way he looks at the reigning bantamweight champion, and admitted that Cruz's comments about Garbrandt having ‘daddy issues' after having grown up with an absentee father "crossed the line" and made the feud personal.
"I definitely lost a lot of respect for him, for the choice words that he has said," Garbrandt said. "Like I said, he can say anything about me, but bringing in about coming from a broken family, man? I came from the struggle, so that's nothing to me. I've had far greater things than Dominick dork-ass Cruz standing in front of me trying to steal a dream.
"I grew up with that. That never loses focus. That makes me more focused, more angry, more mad, and I'm already a savage. If you get that, if you get more motivation for me to hurt somebody, I'm going to go in there and do it 100 times more. He should definitely be scared, and he should be thankful that there's going to be a referee in there because I'm going to be raining down vicious strikes over his limp body."