Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look ahead to the co-main event of UFC 207, as Dominick Cruz defends his bantamweight championship against Cody Garbrandt in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dominick Cruz (Record: 22-1, -225 Favorite, Power Ranking: A+) One of the best fighters in all of MMA, Cruz looks to continue his reign at the top of the bantamweight division. Cruz has won all five of his fights in the UFC. 2016 has been defined by his battle with Team Alpha Male. He’s already beaten TJ Dillashaw and Urijah Faber, and he is now looking to beat Garbrandt to give him a clean sweep over one of the top fight team’s in the sport. Cruz has one of the most unique fighting styles in all of MMA. His game is predicated by movement. Cruz’s footwork is unorthodox, and his constant changing of stance and angle really confuses opponents. By the time he’s in to land a few strikes, he’s already reversed and on the opposite side out of range. His striking defense (72.1 percent) ranks No. 1 in the history of the UFC of any fighter who has fought at least five times in the promotion. It’s his movement and speed that allow him to be one of the sport’s best fighters. Cruz is not a power puncher, but he’s had his moments in recent fights including nearly putting away Faber earlier this year. He lands a solid 3.53 significant strikes per minute. In terms of his wrestling ability, Cruz is underrated in this regard. He secures an excellent 53 percent of his takedown attempts with over 3.5 takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon. Not only is Cruz able to avoid being hit on the feet, but he’s able to control opponents on the ground. That combination is a tough nut to crack. Cody Garbrandt (Record: 10-0, +185 Underdog, Power Ranking: A-) The Ohio born and raised Garbrandt was a high school wrestling standout, winning a state championship in his freshman year. Garbrandt has been fighting professionally for about four years. He has won all 10 fights in his professional career and enters his first UFC title fight off a quick knockout of veteran Takeya Mizugaki. In addition to his wrestling accolades, Garbrandt was an accomplished amateur boxer with a 32-1 career record. He started his career in Ohio, but he made a big decision to move west in 2014 and train at Team Alpha Male. That decision completely changed his career path, as he would go on to have daily training with some of the top fighters in the world. That tremendously built his confidence and his all-around game. Garbrandt has successfully landed 44 percent of his takedown attempts in the UFC, with over 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon. He combines that with a boxing-focused striking attack in which he lands 4.15 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.72 strikes per minute. His striking prowess is near the top of the division in punching power, with nine of his 10 career wins by knockout. For Garbrandt, he has fought 10 times, but he has yet to face any adversity thus far in his professional career. Matchup Cruz looks to extend his winning streak to nearly 10 years when he takes on undefeated title challenger Garbrandt at UFC 207. Cruz has made a career of beating Team Alpha Male fighters. His movement is difficult to decipher, and his ability to fight a consistent pace over 25 minutes makes it very difficult to beat him. Garbrandt is going to struggle in this regard. Despite being in a position to fight for a UFC championship, he simply doesn’t have the experience to deal with Cruz’s unorthodox movement. Garbrandt has very good hands, but he’s a fighter that tends to excel against fighters that lack good head movement and are rather stationary targets. I expect Cruz to implement a strong game plan where he will be able to land strikes and get out of range before Garbrandt is able to throw punches. I see Garbrandt swinging at a lot of air in this bout. Look for Cruz to put on a consistent performance over the course of five rounds, winning a clear decision on the scorecards. Cruz is too quick, too clever and too experienced for Garbrandt. Given that Cruz is not a power striker, the best bet to consider for this fight is Cruz by Decision (+134). This is a fight he should win, and do so rather convincingly, so I don’t expect it to be close on the scorecards.
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