It appears the UFC may not be giving Cody Garbrandt that step up in competition he asked for, as MMAFighting.com reports that a bout between Garbrandt and Takeya Mizugaki is close to being finalized for UFC 202 in August.
The undefeated Garbrandt made his biggest statement to date in May, taking out the previously unbeaten Thomas Almeida in the first round with a fantastic performance. It moved him into the UFC’s top ten in the rankings, knocked Almeida to the bottom of that top ten list, and seemed to set him up for someone else higher up on that list next.
Garbrandt had hoped to face Bryan Caraway next, as Caraway’s win over Aljamain Sterling seemed to position both fighters for something of a No. 1 contender matchup in the fall. Instead, the UFC has apparently gone with Mizugaki.
Though the 32-year-old veteran has been mostly successful in the Octagon, and still ranks among the top 15 in the division, he’s lost two of his last three, getting knocked out by now-Champ Dominick Cruz and submitted by the aforementioned Sterling before a bounce back win over George Roop.
Should the fight be finalized, it will support the August 20 main event between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Penick’s Analysis: At best this is a lateral move for Garbrandt, but it almost seems like a step back after the Almeida win. Of course, given the level of competition he’s defeated in the past as well, it’s a step up from all but Almeida, and gives Garbrandt a chance to prove he can take out more savvy veterans as well on his road to a title fight. Because he’s still a fight or two away with the timing of other contender-type fights, this is an acceptable bout, it’s just not nearly as big or as intriguing as some other potential fights could have been for him.
[Photo (c) Joshua Dahl via USA Today Sports]
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