Thomas Almeida vs Cody Garbrandt: A Look Into Their Fighting Styles (Part 2 of 2)

Part 2 of 2 of the breakdown. If you missed part one, go back here.

Offensive Craft of Garbrandt

Cody Garbrandt is one of the most explosive fighters in the division and he uses it well when he goes on the lead. He’s been known to move quickly to catch opponents off guard on several occasions. Aside from his explosive movement, he has a variety of other techniques he often throws out there.

One of the favorites of Cody Garbrandt are the cartwheel kick and the step up kick. He doesn’t always land this, but you can bet that he’ll continue throwing these considering he throws these in fights often.

garbrandt step up kick
Step-up kick.
cartwheel kick comp
Cartwheel kick.

A frequent combo you’ll often see him use is the 2-3 combo (cross, lead hook). He sometimes uses minimal head movement in the process but on occasions, he’ll sometimes end his lead hook by moving away to avoid counter shots. You’ll often see mixed results when he throws this. He’s thrown this in pretty much all his fights. It’s common to see him throw it off of measuring the opponent’s reaction or off of explosive movement.

cody cross hook comp


Another notable tool in Garbrandt’s arsenal is the use of his short lead hook. He does an excellent job of timing the lead hook counter on opponent’s coming in. This hook is relatively short, making it easier to land the shot first before his opponent. One of the fundamental principles found is boxing is to beat an opponent’s hook by throwing the shorter hook. The shorter hook travels the shorter distance and will connect sooner than the opponent’s longer hook.

cody short hook comp 2


The opening in Almeida’s Game

Thomas Almeida is an exciting fighter who puts on glorious displays of striking exchanges. He does tend to falls into the typical fighter type that fans love seeing—a fighter who “stands and bangs” (one who’s willing to exchange strikes back and forth). Because of his preference to fight close, he can often be seen pressuring opponents until he gets into the pocket to work at his combos. Paying attention to Almeida, one can deduce this is the ideal range where he habitually seeks to enter. Since he’s always looking to get in a close range to work off his offense, he’ll often lead by simply walking into the pocket just to get where he wants to be. It’s too common to see Almeida cuff his gloves tightly close to his chin to approach. The problem with this is that it becomes predictable. Fighters have demonstrated the ability to tag Almeida while he attempts to walk into the pocket. It becomes more of a challenge to walk forward when you’re tagged with a stiff jab or shot before you can gain your footing to engage properly. See these next examples:

almeida walks into range comp
Almeida tagged walking into the pocket.

It’s more conventional to see a fighter enter that range by the use of breaking through at angles to avoid counters or to break into range by disrupting their rhythm. In Almeida’s case, he can use angles and disruptive rhythm, but you can also expect to see him simply walk right into range where a simple jab is enough to diffuse his advancements.

Almeida’s ideal use of range is significantly different compared to fighters like Dominick Cruz, who prefers to only stay in range when he wants to initiate an attack. Almeida is constantly moving into range and staying in there for longer than usual, even when he’s not going on the offense. As long as he gets there, that’s all he needs to work his craft. The main threat for Almeida is that he becomes too complacent in a dangerous range where it’s fair game for anyone to initiate an attack. However, if it wasn’t for his thrive for seeking a fight on the inside, we wouldn’t see as much violent exchanges.

The opening in Garbrandt’s Game

Let’s look at some of his stylistic habits shown by Garbrandt. His debut fight against Marcus Brimage showed us a lot about Garbrandt’s openings. This fight was ultimately won by Garbrandt but he did take his fair share of punishment along the way. On specific opening that was constantly exploited by Brimage was countering Garbrandt’s kick. Nearly all kicks executed were countered with punches.

cody kick countered comp


After the Brimage fight, Cody started to use far less kicks against other opponents, however, when he did use them, he still manages to get countered.

He doesn’t quite have the defensive awareness after ending his kicks. There’s an obvious absence of a guard after the execution of a kick. T.J. Dillashaw in contrast will throw kicks and end with a block and a stiff arm to push block their posture away.

TJ kick and defends
Blocks with one arm, uses the other arm to push block any chances of advancements by controlling the shoulders.

Cody has a tendency to taunt the opponent once and a while but he has to be careful not doing it while walking into the pocket. Most of the time fighters taunt, they do it without advancing forward and staying on the outside range where they have time to react. Doing it coming forward puts you at risk to get tagged.

cody tagged.gif

Two-sided openings

Almeida and Garbrandt are two fighters who have shown to be more than willing to trade shots back in forth. They tend to utilize minimal head movement during these exchanges, and this creates those typical moments where we see those big shots land, and cheers resonating through the crowds.

When Almeida fought Pickett, they would regularly find themselves in back and forth exchanges, often catching one another in pocketed flurries. As mentioned, sometimes Almeida would get caught from his head staying in the center-line. Here’s an example:

brad catches almeida with hook slow
Almeida keeps the head up on the center-line. Pickett slips his head off the center-line.

In that particular sequence, they both threw the cross (not shown here), and follow up with a lead hook. There is one big difference between their executions—head movement. Here, Almeida brings his head back up to the center-line while Pickett weaves his hook under the center-line, thereby smoothly sliding his head passed danger. Unfortunately, the same applies to Garbrandt as well. Garbrandt has shown a nice variety of ways of throwing the lead hook in a way that allows him to avoid counters but will occasionally neglect head movement in the midst of exchanges. Almeida has good technique, keeping his guard up, but with small gloves, it only takes a few inches of adjustments to find a gap in the guard.

Exploiting Garbrandt’s Opening During Kicks

Almeida is a pretty aggressive fighter and usually answers his opponent’s kicks with his own offensive returns according to his fight history. If Garbrandt doesn’t tighten up the openings in his kicking execution, Almeida has a good chance of countering his kicks just like previous opponents managed to do.

almeida punish kick comp.gif
Almeida countering kicks aggressively.

Word of Advice

This piece has been long enough, so I wont continue sharing the other details I found studying this fight. I will end on this final piece of advice. If Almeida looks to posture control, it  would be in Garbrandt’s best interest to disengage. Note in the following image, Almeida controls their posture with one arm.

almeida control.png

Since the arm keeps them in check, it also cuts off one direction for which they can effectively move (indicated in red). There is, however open space away from the arm the opponent can take to escape (indicated in green). If Garbrandt wants to avoid Almeida’s posture control, he needs to move into the open space, away from Almeida’s attempts to set up attacks.

hand control escape from almeida.gif


Final Note

As for Garbrandt, his athleticism and explosive movement will be useful to exploit Almeida’s constant movement forward into the pocket. If Almeida isn’t prepared to react to the quick burst, Granbrandt’s fast movements just might catch Almeida coming in. Garbrandt’s signature short lead hook counter might also be waiting for Almeida’s forward movement as well.

These two fighters make for an explosive fight. We’ve seen how well Almeida’s chin held up against Brad “one punch” Pickett but we have yet to see how well Garbrandt can hold up when faced against that kind of adversity. The closest we’ve seen to Garbrandt’s chin was from his k.o. loss from his amateur days. Almeida’s style heavily indicates he will continue to move forward and aggressively attack up close and we can expect Garbrandt will have the courage to oblige it. Both fighters will throw down.

Against Dominick Cruz?

Whoever moves forward in this fight will take one step closer to perhaps challenging the champ someday. How do they stand against a style like Dominick Cruz? Almeida, who’s craft heavily relies on stationary opponents, may prove to be a difficult style clash against a constantly moving Cruz. For Garbrandt, does he have the tools to fight an opponent in constant motion? It leaves a lot to discuss for the future.

If you’re looking for me/have a request, I’ll be lurking/posting on TMMAC for some time.

For more breakdowns, feel free to visit my home page for the list of other breakdowns from fighters like Conor McGregor, Dominick Cruz, Allistair Overeem, etc. Home Page.




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