As Cody Garbrandt prepares to compete for the first time in more than a year, the former UFC bantamweight champ is coming clean about what went wrong in his only fight at 125 pounds.
While it would be easy to guess that he endured a terrible weight cut, the 31-year-old veteran says his body was actually in the best possible shape after working with a doctor who safely helped him make the transition. Unfortunately, Garbrandt revealed during UFC 285 media day that it was everything happening outside of his training camp that ultimately doomed him when he faced off against Kai Kara-France back in December 2021.
“Let me be honest with you, with that fight,” Garbrandt explained, “I felt good in the sense of the weight cut went good, but outside of that, my life was in shambles. It wasn’t good. I wasn’t in a good place. I wasn’t happy. I went through the motions.”
According to Garbrandt, he was dealing with a separation from his wife and an eventual divorce, which was made even harder because they share a young child together.
Because he came from a home where his parents also split up when he was still a kid, Garbrandt knew how difficult the situation could be on his son, which only added to the stress as he attempted to get ready for a fight while his marriage was falling apart.
“My mind wasn’t there,” Garbrandt said. “I was walking to the octagon just numb, like, ‘F***, I’ve got to go fight now.’ Not because of the weight cut, the weight cut felt good. I could do the weight cut 10 times over, I felt good at [125 pounds]. My life was just not where it needed to be at. I was in the limbo stage with a lot of it. Moving out here [to Las Vegas] and just changing things I needed to change, we have a career.
“I ended up getting divorced. Before my fight, selling my house the week of my fight. I have a son that was three years old, four years old at the time. I come from a split family, I didn’t want that, but I had to do some life changes.”
Garbrandt said he remains on good terms with his ex-wife, especially now that they’re both living in Las Vegas while raising their son together.
He started training full-time at Xtreme Couture, which was a big switch for Garbrandt after spending most of his career working with Urijah Faber and Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif.
Still, Garbrandt knew he had to get his personal life in order before he could turn his full attention back to his fight career, which is what he did to get ready for his UFC 285 return.
“Thankfully me and my ex-wife are great co-parents, doing amazing,” Garbrandt said. “[My son] Kai is so blessed, he turns five next week. I’m just so thankful for him and what he’s brought into my life. Sometimes you just go your separate ways, but I had a lot going on in my personal life.”
Because fighters almost seem superhuman at times with so many people looking up to them, Garbrandt said it’s easy to forget they face the same kinds of struggles as everyone else.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand that we’re still humans at the end of the day,” Garbrandt said. “We still battle with things that regular humans do. We just have skills that, some people put us on pedestals, but at the same time we tie our shoes the same way and deal with the same personal stress and things that go on in life.
“I was finally able to handle that and move forward. She’s happy and I’m happy and our kid’s flourishing. I feel like my life is set on what I needed to do and that’s focus on my career, focus on being a father, being present for my son, and providing for him.”
Compared to what he was facing ahead of his last fight, Garbrandt promised he’s been able to keep his full attention on preparation and getting ready for his return at bantamweight.
Whatever happens in his upcoming fight with Trevin Jones will just determine who’s the better fighter on that night — and Garbrandt couldn’t ask for anything more.
“When I tell you this I feel great, I feel awesome, I had a great camp, I truly did for this fight,” Garbrandt said. “I’m just excited to go out there and perform. I’m a performer, I’m an entertainer. I’m just excited to be back to this position, this energy, this love. I guess you can call it passion for this sport.
“It’s not fun. I don’t think fighting is fun at all, but I enjoy it. I really enjoy it. Fun comes and goes, just like motivation comes and goes. You have to be driven. I’ve been enjoying the journey, the ups and downs. Through the dark times, you have to have the light. The light is I know I can turn this around with one fight.”