Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt: How Cody Won The Title (Breakdown of Technique part 2 of 3)

We continue off on part 2 0f 3 of the breakdown. If you missed part 1, go back [here].

The Dominick Cruz Puzzle

For a long time, fighters have struggled to connect their strikes on Cruz (with a high +70% strike defense rate). It’s a bit of a difficult task to accomplish because he’s cutting away at angles that take away the opponent’s ability to follow up. For a fighter who presents this kind of problem, it becomes a puzzle about how one can manage to land their strikes. This fight against Garbrandt provides us with more answers about solving this puzzle. Instead of trying to chase Dominick Cruz, let him come to you! It seems simple, yet it proved effective. The only time he’s in range is when he goes on the offensive. It becomes that split-window of time where he surrenders control of distance as he tries to approach. Garbrandt choosing not to engage offensively meant Cruz had to surrender control of the range and risk exchanges on the inside where Garbrandt had a speed advantage.

Cutting off the movement

Cody has a strong tendency to utilize shifting after throwing his powerhand. Shifting allows you to move your feet forward after throwing a strike. For the sake of the fight, this allowed Garbrandt to close distance. There were a few times where Cruz would look to approach but then we would see Garbrandt attempt to counter with a powershot while shifting into another powershot. This presented a problem for Cruz because when Garbrandt shifted his stance forward, his foot would cut off Cruz’s own movement blocking his feet from moving any further.  As a result, we would see Garbrandt attempt countering and shifting to stifle Cruz’s movement.

garbrandt blocks off cruz arrow breakdown.gif
Shifting the rear leg up after a powerhand, block off Cruz’s lead leg.
garbrandt shift comp fixed.gif
Garbrandt shifts the rear leg forward and cuts off Cruz’s movement.

Disrupting the Slide

Cruz likes to slide-step to feint the opponent, especially when he’s trying to bait out their counter. He had tremendous success pulling this off against Urijah Faber

[Example Here] and T.J. Dillashaw [Example Here].

But when it came to executing this, Garbrandt had the speed to disrupt Cruz’s timing and had the footwork to cut off his movement [Example Here].

In the Pocket

It’s a fundamental principle to utilize short punches in boxing when you’re in close range. One of Garbrandt’s best skills is that his punches are relatively short, especially when exchanging in that range. He’ll often beat his opponent to the punch because of this. This very attribute gave Garbrandt a distinct edge because Cruz constantly looked to engage in exchanges up close against a fighter who had the ability to connect his shot first before him. Take a look at this next example where Garbrandt and Cruz attempt to throw strikes at the same time, but Garbrandt beats him to the punch.

garbrandt vs cruz race 2.gif
Both throw a right hand, but the shorter punch lands first.

Closer Look Frame by Fame

cody vs cruz punch race.png
Notice how Garbrandt throws his hook a shorter distance and connects first. Cruz winds his hand out a bit too far. 

Garbrandt does a good job of exploding at the core and letting the rest of his limbs follow like a whip to generate force, versus winding your arms out as just a whip. Short crisp punches with explosive execution showed us that Garbrandt has the edge in prolonged pocketed exchanges. His shots are likely to land first and his speed is also more likely to hit rhythms Cruz isn’t ready for.

We continue off on part 3 where we look at the very habit that caused Dominick Cruz to get dropped by punches and finish up seeing the last bit of technical details.

[Part 3 ]


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