Going the Distance: Font Triumphs Over Garbrandt at UFC Vegas 27

If you didn’t know who Rob Font (19-4,  9-3 UFC) was before his last two fights, you certainly know now. The newest contender in the UFC’s bantamweight division put on an excellent performance at the Apex Center on Saturday night, May 22, defeating former champion Cody “No Love” Garbrandt (12-4, 7-4 UFC) via unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 27. 

In his first main event headliner, Font (No. 3) did not disappoint, showcasing crisp boxing skills against Garbrandt (No. 4), who fired back many of his own impactful strikes. Font used his jab effectively, controlling the distance between Garbrandt while continuing to advance his position and force “No Love” to spend much of the fight moving backwards. Garbrandt was able to mix in some takedowns early in the fight, but Font showed great defense on the ground, and even utilized a kimura from guard to sweep Garbrandt and get back to his feet in the second round. While some of the standing exchanges were close, Font ultimately had a huge advantage on the feet, outlanding Garbrandt 176-63 in significant strikes. 

Coming into 2020, Font was on a two-fight win streak, defeating tough opponents in Sergio Pettis and Ricky Simón by unanimous decisions in 2018 and 2019 respectively. However, it wasn’t until December of last year — when he knocked out former title challenger “Magic” Marlon Moraes (No. 6) in the first round — that the New England Cartel product’s stock really started to rise. Now that he’s extended his winning streak against former title contenders, Font has put himself squarely into the crowded bantamweight title picture. 

For Garbrandt, this is a tough result. The former champ from Team Alpha Male was able to end his losing streak when he knocked out Raphael Assuncao (No. 11) at the round 2 buzzer back in June 2020. A win here would have added to that momentum and put him back in the title picture, but alas, No Love got no love from Font. On the bright side, Cody answered some questions about his durability, as Font was unable to finish him despite out landing him significantly.

Bantamweight Landscape

Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling (C) vs. Petr “No Mercy” Yan (No. 1):

  • This fight has not been announced yet, as Sterling is recovering from a recent neck surgery. However, it’s a foregone conclusion that this rematch will happen after the controversial nature of their first fight last year. This time around, hopefully the result will be unquestionable.  

Cory “The Sandman” Sandhagen (No. 2) vs. T.J. Dillashaw

  • This fight was originally scheduled for early May, but was postponed to July after Dillashaw suffered an injury in training camp. This is a huge fight for the former champ, who hasn’t stepped into the Octagon since early 2019 due to a USADA suspension. Sandhagen, in contrast, has all the momentum heading into this fight, with two highlight-reel finishes over Moraes and Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (No. 7) last year. Sandhagen certainly deserves a championship fight with a win here, and while Dillashaw may not, he’s marketable enough that the winner of this fight will likely be the next man up, regardless of who it is. 

Jose Aldo “Junior” (No. 5) vs. Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz (No. 8):

  • This fight has been officially announced. It’s a good opportunity for both of these veterans to get their names back into contention. Aldo is coming off of a win against Marlon “Chito” Vera (No. 15) after losing to Yan for the vacant belt last year. Munhoz’s last two fights follow a similar pattern – dropping a split decision to Edgar before rebounding with a great effort over Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera (No. 12) earlier this year. Regardless of who wins this bout, it’s likely that they will need to string together at least one or two more Octagon victories before being considered for title contention. 

Rob Font (No. 3) vs. loser of Yan (No. 1) vs. Sterling (C) II

  • Font has earned the right to fight someone in front of him, but the title picture is crowded with the winner of Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw likely to get the next shot. Sterling would surely test Font’s ground game, which is weaker than his stand-up, and I’m interested to see whether Font would have the answers. If Yan loses, a fight with Font would be fireworks, as these men are two of the division’s best boxers.

Frankie Edgar (No. 7) vs. Dominick Cruz (No. 9)

  • Originally I wanted to see Cruz fight Aldo, but that’s off the books (for now). So let’s do the next most exciting thing and have two absolute legends of the sport that aren’t in title contention (and probably won’t ever be again) fight each other. Edgar’s speed and striking vs. Cruz’ footwork and elusiveness? I’m here for it, and Dana White would be too — the UFC will have no trouble selling this fight to the fans.

Cody Garbrandt (No. 4) vs Jimmie Rivera (No. 12)

  • Jimmie has fallen out of the top 10 after his recent loss to Munhoz, but I believe he’s better than that ranking indicates, with his only losses coming to the division’s best: Yan, Sterling, Munhoz, and Moraes. While he may not deserve to fight a top-five guy after the Munhoz loss, Garbrandt shouldn’t be viewed as a top-five guy after the Font loss anyway. A matchup with Rivera would be a final litmus test on whether we should still consider Garbrandt to be an elite fighter, regardless of the division in which he’s competing.

Marlon Moraes (No. 6) vs. Merab “The Machine” Dvalishvili (No. 10)

  • Dvalishvili is on a six-fight win streak, and he should be rewarded for those wins by getting a step up in competition. That would certainly be the case were he to fight Moraes next. Moraes is coming off two bad losses, so it almost feels bad to give him to one of the hottest prospects in the division. But feelings don’t matter in mixed martial arts, and if Moraes wants to stick around near the top of this division, a win over Dvalishvili would surely send that message to the fans as well as the UFC brass. On the other hand, a Dvalishvili win, especially in the dominant fashion in which he tends to fight, will earn him the contender status that many have already (perhaps prematurely) ascribed to him.
By Ian Wind, Fight Night Picks contributor
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