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If Cody Garbrandt recaptures belt at UFC 227, he might have T.J. Dillashaw to thank for it

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Former Sacramento stablemates Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw have shown disdain for one another ever since Dillashaw exited Team Alpha Male.

But at a Monday gathering with reporters, Garbrandt maintained he is past all the trash talking and mind games, and that he has only one thing on his mind going into his UFC 227 match against Dillashaw on Saturday at Staples Center: getting his bantamweight belt back.

“Let T.J. do whatever he wants to do, as far as trash talking,” Garbrandt said. “When he says he wants to ruin my career, it motivates me. And for this fight, I’m as motivated as I have ever been. I’m healthy, I had a great camp, and I made some adjustments.”

He maintains his knockout loss to former Cal State Fullerton wrestler Dillashaw in November was not a setback, but instead something he was able to build upon to improve his fighting.

“The last time I lost before the T.J. fight was five years ago. From that loss, I became a world champion without losing a single match. I learned so much from my losses; in fact, I think losing is a blessing in disguise,” Garbrandt said. “Unlike the last time, where I did some things wrong in camp, I now have my life in order. I have balance and feel super blessed. On Saturday night, I’m going to go out there and make my family proud.”

And that family has grown by one member since his last fight. In March, Garbrandt and his wife welcomed their first child.

When asked if having a son made any difference in preparing for this fight, he nodded and answered with a warmer tone: “Having a child gave my life a lot of balance. My boy has given me the most motivation I’ve had in my entire life. I’ve always been a self-motivated person — as one of the hardest workers in the room and always leading by example — but when you see your little boy looking up at you, you just want to get in there and go harder no matter how tired you are.”

Cody Garbrandt poses for photographers before UFC 207 in 2016.
Cody Garbrandt poses for photographers before UFC 207 in 2016. (John Locher / Associated Press)

Perhaps being a father has had a calming effect on Garbrandt, too, as he was quick to offer some words of respect for his upcoming opponent, something he hasn’t done in years.

“T.J. is a tough adversary,” Garbrandt said. “He’s skilled. He’s a good competitor, and he doesn’t want to lose. That’s what’s great about this rivalry — we both don’t like to lose, and we’re fighters, me more so than him.”

Claiming his training camp was interrupted before the November loss, Garbrandt said, “I literally came off the couch last time to fight him, but this time, I pushed myself to the limits of breaking.

“So when I get to that familiar mind-set when fatigue sets in, I’ll be ready because that’s when the fight is going to be decided. I’m a 100% different fighter from the one that stepped into the octagon in Madison Square Garden. T.J. knows that, too. That’s why he’s trying to get me into that banter, trying to get me emotionally invested in this. Well, I don’t give a damn about him; I focus on myself. And when I do that, he cannot — will not — beat me again.”

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