Cody Garbrandt is content watching the “Sugar Show” play out for the time being.
Sean O’Malley joined Garbrandt on the illustrious list of men to hold UFC bantamweight gold after his big second-round TKO of Aljamain Sterling at UFC 292 this past Saturday. The event was supposed to see both compete on the same night for what would have been the second time, their first coming at UFC 269 in December 2021. Unfortunately for “No Love,” an injury forced him out of his clash with O’Malley teammate Mario Bautista.
The pair of bantamweight knockout artists haven’t been too fond of each other since nearly colliding that year at the event’s pre-fight press conference. Despite that, Garbrandt has some respect for the new title holder ... but still assesses him as a rival.
“I’m happy for ‘Sugar’ Sean,” Garbrandt said on Believe You Me. “I think it’s great he’s a champion in our division, I think he has a lot of holes and weaknesses that are going to be exposed a lot. But right now, let him enjoy the championship and what he was able to do on Saturday night.”
O’Malley and Garbrandt went in different directions that same night they fought. The now-champion scored a first-round TKO of Raulian Paiva while Garbrandt went one and done as a flyweight, succumbing to strikes in the opening round opposite Kai Kara-France.
When it comes to how O’Malley handled the former champion, Sterling, Garbrandt was impressed to see that the moment wasn’t too big for the Dana White Contender Series alum.
“I’m happy for ‘Sugar’ Sean to finally get out there and — he had a lot of hype, and he went out there and he rose to the occasion and put away Aljamain,” Garbrandt said. “Looking at that fight, I just think that Aljamain was just too adamant on getting it to the ground. He wasn’t very comfortable with the movement. I have the best footwork and movement in the whole bantamweight division, and I knew that was going to be a problem being in the bigger cage, being the wrestler.
“‘Sugar’ Sean is a counter striker, and he (Sterling) lunged in, left himself open, and you can’t do that with a good counter striker. He knows what Aljamain’s game plan was: Get him to the ground and wrestle him. ‘Sugar’ Sean was like, ‘I’m literally going to fight tooth and nail to not get taken down.’ Aljamain made a costly mistake that made him lose the title.”
Garbrandt, 32, has been facing an uphill climb to return to his heights as champion in 2017. The Uhrichsville, Ohio native is 2-5 (13-5 overall) since his title-winning effort over Dominick Cruz and last saw his hand raised against Trevin Jones via unanimous decision at UFC 285 this past March.
Although arguments have been made that the stacked 135-pound division has passed Garbrandt by, he’s not bitter to see the new wave wash him out. To him, it feels only temporary as the future could still have much to offer.
“It’s not [hard to watch],” Garbrandt said of the division’s changes and growth. “I truly believe that a lot of my best performances are ahead of me. I just have to get the body right. Once the body’s right, mentally, physically, emotionally, I love this. I truly do. It’s the best job I ever had. It truly is. But I’m happy for those guys.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Powerful and I know exactly what he means. I have it good and I can have it great again but for now, I have to sit with this and let life go on. https://t.co/GVnyYNuot3— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) August 23, 2023
Knockouts and old school metal my two favorite things pic.twitter.com/diAc0KU8j3— Matt Brown (@IamTheImmortal) August 23, 2023
Abs are overrated.
This is AÍ generate , I never meet this body . I’m Logan Paul but not prime pic.twitter.com/3pAGtgFQgT— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) August 23, 2023
Omg When superstar hits in the club Saturday night— Sean O'Malley (@SugaSeanMMA) August 23, 2023
It’s def not cool to call out ppl below you in weight so I def won’t even mention that I’d knock Alex Pantoja out…. Again— Sean O'Malley (@SugaSeanMMA) August 24, 2023
I would take you down faster than USADA did. Aljo was too busy making rum and trying to figure out what gender you identify as. The holes in your game are bigger than Logan Paul’s fiancé. https://t.co/Rkm3muALUq pic.twitter.com/PH3RABIjDx— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) August 24, 2023
Rock ‘n roll.
It’s crazy in hindsight to look at UFC 269 and how the UFC literally should have done the UFC 279 switcheroo with Garbrandt and O’Malley’s fights. That fight set itself up during its likely only real chance of ever happening,
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