UFC 227 – @Live Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2

UFC 227 Live : LOS ANGELES – After a pretty stellar couple of years in the octagon, Pedro Munhoz’s 2018 wasn’t off to the brightest of starts.

First, in February, Munhoz saw a UFC Fight Night 125 bout with John Dodson fall through because of an unfortunate career first for the Brazilian: a weight miss. Then a month later, when he got a chance to actually fight Dodson, Munhoz saw a four-fight winning streak snapped – and in a way that, as he told MMAjunkie at the time, he had a hard time digesting.

Munhoz (15-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) has a chance to pick things up now, though, when he meets Brett Johns (15-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at UFC 227 on Saturday. And he’s ready to move forward – even if some elements of frustration with that split-decision loss remain.

“I think that I deserved to win that fight, because I was the guy pushing the pace,” Munhoz told MMAjunkie ahead of the bantamweight bout, which closes out UFC 227’s FX-televised preliminaries ahead of the pay-per-view main card. “And the other interview I was listening to right here – it’s really cool when someone shows up to fight. But I get it.

“I respect (Dodson). He’s a great fighter, experienced. He deserves to be where he’s at. But, if he fights me how the UFC wants, how the people want, of course I will knock him out, finish him.”

There are other things that Munhoz still takes issues with in that fight, and you can hear about them in the video above, but he also doesn’t see that much of a point in re-hashing the past while he’s got the present to worry about. And that comes in the form of Johns, who’s also looking for recovery after his first career loss.

Munhoz, who’s ranked No. 15 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, has never been one to handpick fights and would have signed on the dotted line had it been any other opponent, ranked or not. But, as it turns out, he’s glad for the one he’s got in No. 14 ranked Johns.

“One thing that I got interested, and I was happy to see is that he comes to fight,” Munhoz said. “That makes me happy. Knowing that we’re going to fight.”

That’s what Munhoz is ultimately focused in doing: showing up to fight. Whatever happens in the end is merely the consequence of that. It just so happens that, thanks to Munhoz’s aggressive style, that has so far meant not only a whole lot of winning, but a lot of bonus-collecting, as well. Among Munhoz’s last four wins, he earned “Performance of the Night” honors for the submissions of Russell Doane, Justin Scoggins and Rob Font.

In fact, only one of Munhoz’s UFC wins needed the scorecards, while all of his career losses were determined there – two in split fashion.

Munhoz sums it up best when he says he likes “to go there and brawl and give exciting fights.” The bout with Johns is no exception. And while he welcomes the idea of a “Fight of the Night” type of war, Munhoz wouldn’t mind going back to his finishing ways.

“This time, to be a little different than the other time, I think a knockout is going to be pretty good,” Munhoz said.

To hear from Munhoz, check out the video above.

Cody Garbrandt’s fight against TJ Dillashaw is the highlight of UFC 227

CODY Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw have one of the UFC’s most compelling feuds of recent years. This beef is rooted in betrayal and tribalism, and it led to the demolition of a once-cordial relationship between training partners.

The feud persisted even after Dillashaw knocked out Garbrandt and took his bantamweight title belt last year, following months of verbal sparring and pre-fight scuffling.

Their rematch at the Staples Center on Sunday (AEST) is the main event of UFC 227. The undercard kicks off at 10am and will be shown on Fox Sports while the main card — which you can purchase on Main Event pay-per-view or via UFC Fight Pass — starts at approximately 12pm.

The co-main event sees Demetrious Johnson face Henry Cejudo before Garbrandt’s blockbuster against Dillashaw, which provides the chance for a particularly personal victory for both men, who declined to shake hands at their ceremonial face-off on Friday in downtown Los Angeles.

“I prefer to be respectful,” Dillashaw said. “I prefer to be a martial artist, so I like a respect level, but I don’t mind the drama, either. I’m going to use it to my advantage.”

Garbrandt (11-1) and Dillashaw (15-3) actually have plenty in common. They’re both well-conditioned, gifted strikers who became elite competitors at Team Alpha Male, Urijah Faber’s famed gym in Sacramento.

They’ve also both become first-time fathers in the nine months since their last bout. But they simply haven’t gotten along ever since Dillashaw won the bantamweight title and also left Alpha Male in 2014.

To make an epic story short, Dillashaw says he was thrown out because he wouldn’t break ties with coach Duane Ludwig, who had just split acrimoniously from Faber. Several Alpha Male fighters, including Garbrandt, say Dillashaw turned his back on them.

“Let him say what he wants, but that motivates me,” Garbrandt said. “If you say you’re going to ruin my career and basically take food out of my child’s mouth, that’s fine. I didn’t need any more motivation with my new son, and while I’m coming off my first loss, I’ve been more motivated than I ever have out of any win.”

Any viewer of the pay-per-view show can’t miss the clear contrast between Garbrandt, the rural Ohio product with prominent neck tattoos, and Dillashaw, the clean-cut college graduate with a California surfer look. But the rematch primarily is a collision of two fighters with legitimate reason to think they’re the best in the 135-pound division.

Garbrandt rocketed to the top of the class, winning the belt less than two years after entering the UFC. He lost his title in equally stunning fashion last November to Dillashaw, who reclaimed the strap he had lost to Dominick Cruz nearly two years earlier.

During his ascent, Garbrandt appeared to be the archetype of the most compelling lighter-weight fighters. He was slick, athletic, stylistically well-rounded and powerful enough to generate knockouts — and he looked the part of a mixed martial arts star, right down to those tattoos that spread down his resplendently multi-coloured arms.

Garbrandt’s neck is covered by large wings flanking a diamond, with the words “SELF MADE” atop his sternum. He seemed ticketed for superstardom — until Dillashaw, the former Cal State Fullerton wrestler whose only losses in the last six years were on debatable split decisions, wrecked the narrative with his fists.

Immediately after their bout at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Garbrandt claims he tried to quash their grudge, but Dillashaw rejected him. Dillashaw says he isn’t to blame for not wanting Garbrandt around him.

“You’ve got me by the throat before, and that pushed me overboard,” Dillashaw said, recalling a past scuffle between the two. “What’s changed now? Just because I slapped you upside your face, what’s different? Why have you got to be fake?”

While Garbrandt doesn’t accept the blame for this state of affairs, he insists he has grown and changed since his wife Danny gave birth in March to their first child, a son named Kai. But Garbrandt also angrily declined to apologise this week for a series of racially insensitive tweets from his early 20s.

“I’ve never felt entitled to anything in my life,” Garbrandt said. “I feel like everything happens for a reason. I’ve been given second chances my whole entire life. … T. is a tough adversary. He’s skilled. He’s a good competitor. He doesn’t like to lose either. That’s what’s great about this rivalry.”