Cody Garbrandt made a good case for himself as the next bantamweight title-challenger Sunday with a first-round knockout of fellow undefeated young star Thomas Almeida in Las Vegas. The stoppage came at 2:53 seconds of the first round.
Garbrandt was the aggressor from the start, while Almeida never really made an effort to be first, despite staying in punching range during most moments. The Team Alpha Male contender made Almeida pay for that approach with big punches to the head.
A left hook first wobbled Almeida, but it wouldn't be the last time. Garbrandt got only more aggressive after he smelled blood, firing fast punches in combination.
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As he continued to back up Almeida against the cage wall, Garbrandt connected with a straight right punch to the head that snapped Almeida's head backward. He followed with more punches, and the next right collapsed Almeida to the mat. Almeida covered his face with his forearms and elbows, and absorbed more strikes on the ground until the referee stopped the fight.
"When the lights are shining, that's when I'm the best," the 24-year-old said after the match.
Garbrandt's teammate and captain Urijah Faber challenges 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz later this week in Los Angeles at UFC 199. "No Love" sounded like a man ready to go after Cruz should Faber fall short against him in their rubber match, promising he could knock out anyone in the division, and calling "The Dominator" out by name.
"I don't really have a gameplan, I just kind of throw and I know I hit the hardest," Garbrandt said.
"I'm going to be the champion."
Almeida suffered the first loss of his career, dropping to 20-1. Garbrandt stays perfect by improving his mark to 9-0.