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UFC 207 fight card primer: Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt

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The co-main event of tonight’s UFC 207 pay-per-view sees men’s bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz face off against the heavy-handed, undefeated Cody Garbrandt. All the details are here in our Bloody Elbow primer.

MMA: UFC 207-Weigh In Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While the main event of UFC 207 will feature the women’s bantamweight title bout between champion Amanda Nunes and former champion Ronda Rousey, it’ll be the men’s bantamweight belt on the line in tonight’s co-main event. Reigning titleholder Dominick Cruz (22-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) will look to continue his dominance in the division by taking out the undefeated Cody Garbrandt (10-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC). The UFC rankings have Cruz listed as the #3 pound-for-pound fighter, while Garbrandt is the #5 ranked bantamweight contender. UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey airs live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on a Friday, December 30th. The main card airs live on PPV at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT, with the prelims starting at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on Fox Sports 1, and one prelim bout (Alex Oliveira vs. Tim Means) airing at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fight Pass.

For all intents and purposes, Cruz only ever “lost” his UFC bantamweight title through a series of injuries that shelved him for over 2 years. Apart from that, he’s undefeated in the weight class, and looked better than ever in his last fight vs. Urijah Faber. As for Garbrandt, he’s an exciting talent with one-shot KO power, and he’ll be looking to shut Cruz up after all of the heated trash-talk that has been prevalent over the past few months.

How do these two stack up?

Cruz: 31 years old | 5’8" | 68" reach
Garbrandt: 25 years old | 5’7" | 65" reach

What have these two done recently?

Cruz: W - Urijah Faber (UD) | W - T.J. Dillashaw (SD) | W - Takeya Mizugaki (KO)
Garbrandt: W - Takeya Mizugaki (TKO) | W - Thomas Almeida (KO) | W - Augusto Mendes (KO)

How did these two get here?

Cruz won the WEC bantamweight title when he beat Brian Bowles in 2010. Following the WEC-UFC merger, Cruz’s title was a UFC one, and in his 2011 UFC debut, he avenged his only career loss to Urijah Faber by winning a unanimous decision. Following a victory over Demetrious Johnson, Cruz wouldn’t compete again until 2014, having suffered a torn ACL, which required two surgeries. Cruz vacated his belt after a torn groin suffered prior to a scheduled title fight vs. Renan Barao, but when he did make his comeback, he looked spectacular in knocking out Takeya Mizugaki in just 61 seconds. An ACL tear in his other knee sidelined him for all of 2015, but 2016 has been a brilliant year for him. He edged out T.J. Dillashaw by split decision to recapture a title he’d never lost in the cage, then defended it successfully with a one-sided win over heated rival Urijah Faber. Tonight’s fight vs. Garbrandt will mark the first time since 2010 that he’s fought 3 times in a calendar year.

Garbrandt is one of the most powerful punchers in the 135 lbs division. All but one of his 10 career wins has come by KO or TKO, and as he’s gone up the ladder in competition, the knockouts have kept coming. After beating short-notice replacement Augusto Mendes in February, the Team Alpha Male talent scored a May headlining spot against fellow KO artist Thomas Almeida, and he put away the Brazilian brilliantly in the 1st round. At UFC 202 in August, Garbrandt fought former WEC title challenger Takeya Mizugaki and didn’t even need a minute to knock him out. Cruz is of a considerably higher quality than anyone Garbrandt has faced to date, so if Garbrandt can pull off the upset, he’ll have a strong case for 2016’s Fighter of the Year.

Why should you care?

There’s a lot of bad blood between these two, and Cruz has made it a point to hammer home how unsuccessful Team Alpha Male fighters have been against him. This is one you won’t want to miss.