Cody Garbrandt has a chance to become a world champion this Friday at UFC 207 when he challenges bantamweight king Dominick Cruz. More than that, however, the Team Alpha Male product has a chance to be the UFC's breakout star in the coming year. This is why.
1. Cody Garbrandt is a winner
Few things sell like dominance. #CodyGarbrandt has so far been completely devastating in his pro career. He's a perfect 10-0, and he's finished nine of those opponents. If he manages to beat Cruz, Garbrandt will prove that he's capable of beating anyone, and he'll open 2017 as the newest king of the UFC.
2. Cody Garbrandt is a knockout fighter
Winning is one thing, but being a knockout artist is scary. Garbrandt doesn't do decisions and he doesn't do submissions. The kid has nine KO wins out of 10 total career victories. He's already stopped some of the more durable contenders and veterans alike in Thomas Almeida and Takeya Mizugaki. Simply put, no one is safe when hit flush by Garbrandt. The UFC has a walking, breathing highlight film in Garbrandt, which makes him easy to market.
3. Cody Garbrandt is good looking
Listen, we don't want to dwell here for too long, but the sad reality is that promoters look to first promote those they believe are easy on the eyes. Garbrandt is handsome and stylish. Pair that with knockouts in the cage and Garbrandt is likely to see his popularity grow in the coming year.
4. Cody Garbrandt is accessible
As far as we can tell, the young challenger is a good interview, and not hard to get a hold of. Letting people into your life as a public figure can't be easy, but it is certainly helpful when you're trying to increase your fan-base. Garbrandt has understandably been tense and terse when confronted with Dominick Cruz's personal trash talk, but otherwise he always seems at ease and friendly when the mic or camera is on.
5. Cody Garbrandt has a built-in rivalry
Given that so many of his current and former Team Alpha Male teammates have already fought #DominickCruz, Garbrandt is rightly being branded as the next generation of TAM rivals to "The Dominator." His already intense rivalry with Cruz will ensure a lot of eyes of on their fight, Friday, giving Garbrandt the biggest stage of his career.
6. Cody Garbrandt has youth on his side
Youth may sometimes help with marketability, but it can also help Garbrandt with career development. At just 25 years of age, there's little reason to believe that — win or lose — #UFC207 would be Garbrandt's last crack at a title. Sure, if he beats Cruz, he'll rocket to the top. There are plenty of ways he could lose and still be situated well in 2017 to continue to climb the mountain. For example, a close fight with the champion would show Garbrandt is capable of going the distance with the best ever. A quick loss where Garbrandt makes a bad mental mistake could easily be brushed aside with a few more wins, afterwards. One way or another, Garbrandt will learn a whole lot on Friday.
As long as he doesn't sustain life-changing damage, he'll be more wise and more ready for whatever the future holds. That's the approach Georges St-Pierre tripped up and lost to Matt Hughes in 2004 when he had his first chance at the top. By the time GSP faced Hughes again in 2006, however, he had learned a great deal about himself, improved, and dominated the then champion.