Cody Garbrandt didn't have to wait long until the callouts began. Just hours after Garbrandt scored a thunderous 48-second victory over Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 202, fellow bantamweight contender Bryan Caraway reached out to the UFC and requested a showdown with the fast-rising Team Alpha Male prospect. And though Garbrandt has his sights set on a fight against UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, he couldn't help but laugh when he learned of Caraway's request.
"That's funny because that dude has turned me down twice," Garbrandt said Monday on The MMA Hour. "That guy turned me down twice. He's a bigger b*tch than Dominick Cruz. He knows that I'm next in line for a title shot, now he wants to keep his name relevant. All these fighters want to throw their name in with me. They want to throw their name in with the best just to get a chance to get in there, because they know I'm the real deal, they know I'm going to be the next champion, they know I'm the big fight.
"But's it's funny, Bryan, you were supposed to be my last fight, but you said you were hurt and that's why Takeya stepped up and took the fight. So he turned me down twice. The first time because I wasn't ranked, then this time I think just because I was finally ranked and then he said ‘I was hurt.' That was before all of this. So that's funny that he wants to grow some balls and call me out."
Caraway is currently the No. 4 ranked contender in the UFC bantamweight division, although this isn't the first time he has been accused by his fellow bantamweights of turning down fights. Caraway previously turned down a fight against John Dodson at UFC 196 due to longtime girlfriend Miesha Tate fighting for the title on the same night. Caraway also shot down a challenge from Garbrandt in June, and of late, Urijah Faber accused Caraway of turning down a fight with Jimmie Rivera which Faber ultimately accepted.
"Look, you can't force fighters to fight," Garbrandt said. "That guy isn't a fighter. I don't even know why he's in the division. I really don't. I think he should just go and hang it up and be a coach. He don't want to fight anybody. He doesn't. He doesn't want to fight anybody. He got a win over a very over-hyped opponent last time and thinks that he deserves a title shot with that? I don't think so."
Following his win over Mizugaki, Garbrandt is instead turning his gaze past Caraway and towards the head honcho of the division, Cruz.
With a perfect 5-0 UFC record that includes four KO/TKO wins, as well as significant heat in the rivalry between he and Cruz, Garbrandt believes he has built a better case for a title shot than other top contenders like former champion T.J. Dillashaw.
"You put Raphael Assuncao in front of me, I knock Raphael Assuncao out," Garbrandt said. "I thought T.J. was just fighting just to win (at UFC 200), just to keep his name relevant in the top. I'm going out there and finishing fighters. I'm going out there and finishing fighters in the first round. No matter what their rank is, I'm going out there and finishing them, and I'm rightfully deserving of a title shot. Like I said, I'm the most entertaining fighter in my division and I go out there and perform."
The UFC appears to have gotten behind Garbrandt too, as the undefeated prospect was booked for a media day in Los Angeles in the week prior to UFC 202 and given a coveted spot headlining the FOX Sports 1 preliminary card on an event headlined by the massive rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. And Garbrandt certainly made good on the opportunity, knocking out Mizugaki with a sensational striking combination 13 seconds faster than Cruz did in 2014, then calling out the champion with his time in his post-fight interview.
"I feel like I'm the last of a dying breed. I'm a fighter. I'm a fighter's fighter. I'm a purebred, and I want to change the sport back to those days," Garbrandt said.
"Dominick Cruz was the champion for how long and he really wasn't a draw. And now it's back to the bantamweight division being talked about as being one of the deepest pools, coming back with the star power, and I'm the cream of the crop in that division and rightfully deserving of a title shot."