Cody Garbrandt felt off in UFC Fight Night 188 loss: ‘I was fighting myself in there, battling myself’

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Cody Garbrandt says his internal battle was bigger than the one he faced against Rob Font in the UFC Fight Night 188 main event.

Garbrandt (12-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) suffered a unanimous decision loss to Font (19-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in Saturday’s bantamweight main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, dropping him to 1-4 in his past five fight since he claimed the UFC title in December 2016. It seemed “No Love” couldn’t get out of first gear in the bout, as he was tactically picked apart by his opponent for the majority of 25 minutes.

In the immediate aftermath of the fight, Garbrandt took to social media to give an immediate reaction to the outcome. During an Instagram Live stream, Garbrandt gave Font his props, but also indicated he doesn’t view the result as a product of him being the inferior fighter.

“Rob was the better man,” Garbrandt said. “I felt like I was fighting myself in there, battling myself. I’m not taking anything away from him. Congrats to his camp, congrats to him.”

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Garbrandt failed to detail exactly what he meant by “fighting myself.” It’s not hard to find the potential meaning behind his statement, though. Prior to the fight, Garbrandt had nine months away from the octagon where he encountered a serious case of COVID-19 that made him pull out of a flyweight title fight with Deiveson Figueiredo in November, and had him in a bad way.

He overcame that to the point he was able to step in the octagon, but once in there, the challenges Font presented caused him to struggle. Garbrandt’s biggest moments of success came when he was aggressive and throwing combinations, but Font also had accurate counters. The balance between Garbrandt brawling and staying technical has been a tough middle ground for him in recent years, and he appeared to be figuring out how to make it work inside the cage.

It didn’t happen, though, and Garbrandt came out with the loss. The 29-year-old said he takes it as a valuable learning lesson, and intends to get back in the gym and figuring out how to put the pieces of the puzzle back together.

“A lot of positive come from this,” Garbrandt said. “Brush it off. Get back with my coaches and teammates and we’re still striving to be the best, to be world champion. Sometimes there’s adversity that comes along in your dreams and makes you work harder and makes you realize what needs to be done and it makes it that much sweeter when you climb up the mountain.

“It wasn’t my night, but man I enjoy this. I’ll correct my mistakes and just really thankful. … I fight my heart out for you guys.”

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