The heated rivalry between UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and undefeated power-puncher Cody Garbrandt served as the co-main event of UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bad blood was exchanged frequently throughout the pre-fight buildup, and as you might have expected, there was no glove touch during the fight night staredown.
Garbrandt taunted Cruz’s footwork by doing a little dance. Cody missed wildly on a right hand as Cruz threw a high kick. Cruz stuck out his jab. Garbrandt was able to land the left on Cruz and back the champion up. Garbrandt chased Cruz down and missed on his punches, as Cruz beautifully evaded them. Cody had a kick to the body caught, but he stuffed the takedown and landed a solid leg kick on Cruz. The champion took Garbrandt down but Cody scrambled back to his feet fairly quickly, as Cruz couldn’t establish firm control of him on the mat. A well-timed takedown by Garbrandt caught Cruz off-guard in the final 30 seconds of a tense opening round. Cruz whiffed on a spinning backfist to end the 1st.
Cruz had a nice combination to start round 2. Garbrandt clocked Cruz with a big left hook but then Cruz knocked Garbrandt off balance with a hard left of his own. The challenger connected on a counter right hand. Cruz popped out that jab and continued to frequently switch stances. Good knee to the body by Cruz momentarily stopped Garbrandt in his tracks. Cody threw a body kick and a left hand over the top. A takedown attempt by Cruz was expertly thwarted by Garbrandt, they exchanged heavy leather in the pocket, with Cruz getting tagged with a right, and the 2nd round concluded.
Garbrandt slipped on a high kick and Cruz tried to pounce on top of him but they went back to standing. Garbrandt caught Cruz with a right hand and then a left hook. Cruz was cut open on the left side of his face. Cody taunted Cruz and was laughing at him. A big shot hurt Cruz with 2 minutes left in the 3rd round. Cruz kept his composure and threw a jab and a left hook. Garbrandt slipped several Cruz punches in a row. Cruz was missing wildly and Garbrandt was the one putting on the defensive show. It was a very clear round 3 for the challenger. Replays showed that an accidental headbutt caused Cruz’s nasty cut above his left eye.
A leg kick by Cruz landed but he got clipped with a counter left hand to open round 4. Cruz was floored by a right hand after exchanging big strikes with the challenger. Garbrandt didn’t jump on him, instead pointing at him as Cruz went back to his feet. A hard straight right jarred Cruz. Garbrandt continued his taunting of Cruz as he evaded punch after punch and displayed beautiful movement. The action slowed just a tad towards the latter end of the 4th, but Cruz was just unable to really get his offense going. A big left hook dropped Cruz flat on his backside. Another shot knocked Cruz down. Garbrandt poured it on in the final 20 seconds and was in full command of the bout.
In round 5, Cruz again threw a spinning backfist and whiffed, then took a hard body kick. He stuck the jab out but needed a lot more to win this fight given the way rounds 3-4 went. Cruz scored with a right hand, a left hook, and then an uppercut. Flying knee by Cruz was effectively stopped in midair by Garbrandt. Cruz threw a leg kick and Garbrandt dropped to the floor in another moment of mocking him. Garbrandt’s output waned a bit and Cruz took advantage by throwing what he could, but Garbrandt frequently ducked and dodged his best shots. Cody pressed Cruz up against the cage and tried a takedown in the final 30 seconds of this thrilling fight. Garbrandt connected with a knee to the body on the exit. Cody celebrated before the horn sounded, they hugged each other, and the fight drew to a close.
Official result: Cody Garbrandt def. Dominick Cruz by unanimous decision (48-46, 48-47, 48-46) to become the new UFC bantamweight champion
Garbrandt improves to 11-0 in his career, while Cruz drops to 22-2, having lost at bantamweight for the first time ever.