Cody Garbrandt believes he’s one win away from securing a title shot. No longer a rising talent, “No Love” considers himself much more than that.
“I’m not a prospect anymore; I’m a contender,” Garbrandt said Thursday at UFC 202 Ultimate Media Day. “My performances show that. So out with the prospect and in with the contender. I’m going to be the champion of the world.”
Garbrandt is the biggest favorite on the fight card, but knows taking an eight-win UFC veteran like Mizugaki lightly would be a massive mistake.
“He’s an underdog but he’s got nothing to lose so he’s gonna come out here and try to kill me,” Garbrandt said. “I know what I have to do on Saturday: knock him out and collect two checks and go home.”
Cruz is always on Garbrandt’s mind. He has been envisioning a showdown with “The Dominator” since his teenage years. A Who’s Who list of contenders before Garbrandt thought they had the answer to solving the Cruz puzzle, but none have been able to take him out.
Cruz is undefeated in the UFC and his only loss came nine years ago against Garbrandt’s teammate and mentor, Urijah Faber. The long feud between Cruz and Team Alpha Male has been well documented and Garbrandt hopes to be the one to finally take him out.
“I want to get Dominick Cruz before he gets hurts or retires or tries to run out of the division,” he said. “I’m definitely going to keep calling him out until he finally grants me my wish.
“I got the missing piece to the puzzle. I got a few – I got eight of them (putting his two fists in the air). I’m focused on Takeya and getting the win over him.”
Garbrandt plans to show his ongoing maturation in the game that he’s become obsessed with against Mizugaki. He plans to put on a show once again, and he’s always looking for the finish.
“I’m going to go out there and pick up the knockout, just whenever it comes,” Garbrandt said. “I’m looking for a first-round knockout, see how it presents itself. If it’s the third, second or first, but I’m going to get the knockout victory.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC