Opinion: Too soon for Garbrandt as champion should Cruz to victory at UFC 207

The pair meet in the co-main event

BY Simon Maguire 10:48 Friday 30 December 2016, 10:48 30 Dec 2016

Image: Gregory Payan AP/Press Association Images

Dominick Cruz defends his bantamweight title on Friday against Cody Garbrandt in the co-main event at UFC 207. 

The bad blood between the pair is evident and is amplified by the fact that the challenger is a protégé of Cruz’s long time nemesis Urijah Faber and his team, Alpha Male.

“No Love” Garbrandt is on a tear at the moment and is currently 10-0 as a pro, stopping nine of his opponents.

His last three fights have been first round KOs, and he has been vocal in his pursuit of a championship bout against the titleholder.

Cruz is currently riding a 12 fight win streak, with his last loss coming in 2007 against Faber. However, he won the trilogy fight against Faber after regaining the title from TJ Dillashaw in January 2016 to avenge that loss.

Cruz was stripped of his bantamweight title due to injury-forced inactivity, but has regained his form over the last two years. 

The champion is a slick counter-puncher who glides in and out, avoiding unnecessary brawling. However, he can also stand and trade when required. His elusive style frustrates opponents and forces them to rush in, creating openings which he tends to capitalise on.

Garbrandt, for all his talk, is yet to face anyone of the calibre of "The Dominator" and should be in for a tough night.

Although viewed as a knock-out artist, "No Love" has been left sprawled on the canvas in his amateur days - something Cruz has been quick to point out on Twitter.

Tensions spilled over at the weigh-in yesterday, when the two teams became involved in a minor fracas and had to be separated by security staff.

Cruz also appears to be handling the pressure of the situation far better than his challenger, and should take a unanimous decision on the night. 

Elsewhere on the card, top bantamweight contenders TJ Dillashaw and John Lineker face off in a scrap to decide the next challenger to the title. 

Dillashaw rebounded from his narrow loss to Cruz with a comfortable win over Rafael Assuncao while Lineker is on a six fight win streak going into the bout. 

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