Cody Garbrandt finds himself fighting in a new division on Saturday when he makes his flyweight debut against Kai Kara-France at UFC 269. His future in the flyweight division and the UFC depends on his performance on Saturday as a 125-pound fighter.
Garbrandt has been out of the cage for over six months, and he dropped in weight after his loss to Rob Font in May. Garbrandt fell to Font via unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 27. As a result of the loss, Garbrandt’s bantamweight title hopes withered away for the time being and he was forced to process his career.
At the end of 2020, Garbandt was slated to fight former flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title. Unfortunately, Garbrandt contracted COVID-19 and that forced him out of the flyweight title bout for UFC 255 in November 2020.
His last five years or so have consisted of many ups and downs as a bantamweight. In November 2017, Garbrandt lost his bantamweight title to TJ Dillashaw via a second-round TKO. Since then, he has lost four of his last five fights and is no longer in the bantamweight title conversation.
If he would have won against Font, he would have been on the short list of top bantamweight contenders. Instead, he missed out on another bantamweight title fight and a potential flyweight title fight escaped him.
In June 2020, he looked like he was back on the right track with a sensational knockout against Raphael Assuncao at UFC 250. Before UFC 250, Garbrandt switched camps and started training with renowned MMA coach Mark Henry.
It was a necessary change for Garbrandt who entered the Assuncao fight on a three-fight losing streak. His previous loss at UFC 235 in March 2019 came against Pedro Munhoz in the first round. He was reeling after the loss to Munhoz and Henry was the right coach to assist him.
— Cody Garbrandt (@Cody_Nolove) November 20, 2021
For this fight, it will decide a lot of Garbrandt’s immediate future. With a win, he probably won’t be in striking distance of a flyweight title but he will improve his chances of being a title hopeful in the 125-pound division. There is also a question about Garbrandt’s ability to compete at a much lighter weight.
Scouting Kara-France, he is coming off a first-round KO win against Rogerio Bontorin. Kara-France is the No. 6 ranked flyweight in the division and he will certainly pose a difficult task for Garbrandt with his striking background.
This fight will be a pivotal one for Garbrandt because his championship aspirations are hanging in the balance. Not only could this fight impact his championship hopes, but it could determine his UFC future. If he were to lose to Kara-France, the UFC could weigh their options with Garbrandt since he would be on a two-fight skid and he would have lost five of his last seven bouts.
The UFC is doing Garbrandt no favors in his flyweight debut, but this fight is meant to see what he is made of. If he is successful, then he will buy himself time and cool off his seat. Garbrandt needs to secure a win in order to keep moving forward in the right direction.