On paper, UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt is heading into one of the toughest tests of his career against former titleholder TJ Dillashaw at UFC 217 on November 4th, but he doesn’t sound overly concerned about it.
The key to Garbrandt’s confidence appears to be the fact that he’s trained with Dillashaw many times in the past when they were both training partners at Team Alpha Male.
“I’m supremely confident against TJ,” Garbrandt told MMAweekly.com. “He’s actually given me the most confidence I’ve had in my career to really push forward and give it all I had. When he was world champion, I was 1-0 and working my way up. I was training with him [thinking] this guy’s the world champion? I know I’m going to be a world champion.
“He gave me the supreme confidence to know that if I just stick to the course that I’m at, training and being a good person, that I’m going to make it happen and here I am, 26 years old now, world champion.”
Garbrandt goes on to suggest that he used to get the better of his bitter rival when they locked horns in the training room.
“I don’t feel TJ’s any more of a threat. I know him, I’ve trained with him, I’ve beat him up in practice. I know that’s practice, but with a guy like TJ, he doesn’t like to lose an inch, a round, a submission, anything. So I know it was full-on fighting. So I’m supremely confident going in there Nov. 4.”
The champion has stated in the past that he even has video footage of him knocking out Dillashaw in practice, and it seems it’s incidents like that which have led him to the conclusion that Dillashaw’s chin won’t hold out when they go head-to-head at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m better than him everywhere and I guarantee it — he doesn’t have a strong chin. He will not be able to take a strike, a blow from me with four-ounce gloves on. He wasn’t able to do it with a 16-ounce glove and he won’t be able to do it in a four-ounce glove. So if TJ makes it all five rounds, goes the distance, that’s a win for him.
“I honestly think where I [said I would hit] [Takeya] Mizugaki with the first hard punch, he’ll go out. The first hard punch I land on TJ, he’ll go to sleep. He’ll go to sleep and I’ll rain down punches on him.”
Garbrandt certainly has impressive credentials in that regard, with 9 of his 11 career victories coming by way of T/KO, and 7 of those in the first round, but it’s also worth noting that Dillashaw only has one loss to strikes in his 17-fight career and hasn’t been training at TAM for more than two years at this point.