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Cody Garbrandt will not let T.J. Dillashaw losses define him: ‘You can’t let the dirt bury you’

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The former UFC bantamweight champion reflects on his two defeats against rival T.J. Dillashaw.

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Cody Garbrandt UFC 235 T.J. Dillashaw Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Garbrandt knows better than anyone that losses are part of the game.

The former UFC bantamweight champion opened up his mindset heading into UFC 235 following back-to-back losses to longtime rival T.J. Dillashaw.

“I feel like true competitors, true fighters, understand that this is part of the sport,” Garbrandt told MMA Fighting. “You can never be too high off the winning, or too low off a loss. You’ve got to have a short memory in this game, and move forward. Pick yourself up after a loss, and check yourself after a win.”

Garbrandt admits the Dillashaw losses were tough to swallow, but such is the nature of MMA.

“Honestly, in this sport everyone is so good, everyone is so talented,” he said. “You fight with four-ounce gloves on — in a perfect world, you’d be undefeated and walk away. That’s a small percentage. That’s Floyd Mayweather. Some people look at a loss and it’s devastating, it’s the end of the world, they go in a downward spiral and they let dirt get piled on them. You just got to brush yourself off. You can’t let the dirt bury you.”

“I’m not OK with it, I hate losing, but it honestly re-lit a fire under me,” insisted Garbrandt. “I remember the first time I lost, before I lost to T.J., the first time was five years ago. I got knocked out in one of my last amateur fights [against Jerrell Hodge]. I was like, holy s—t, how am I going to be a professional fighter if I just got knocked out as an amateur?”

“I remember after the first T.J. loss in New York, I was sitting back there and I thought, man, I’m going to have a Georges St-Pierre career,” he said. When that didn’t happen, “I was like, that’s fine, lose then come back and win a world championship. Then I got beat again, and I was like, damn, I’m going to have a [Daniel Cormier] career. And you look at him now. He’s a double champion, he’s getting paid. He got beat twice by Jon Jones in close fights, and now he’s a double champion. For me, you’ve got to have light at the end of the tunnel.”

“It’s a different journey I’m on now,” Garbrandt explained. “I want to be on a journey to be a world champion but along that way I want to inspire and use my platform for other people to showcase that you should never give up.”

Garbrandt fights Pedro Munhoz at UFC 235 in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday, March 2. The card is headlined by a UFC light-heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Anthony Smith. Tyron Woodley defends his UFC welterweight strap against Kamaru Usman in the co-main event.