A last-minute opponent change wasn’t going to stop Cody Garbrandt from fighting close to home on Sunday night, and he put on a show with a nasty first-round knockout over newcomer Augusto Mendes.
Garbrandt hails from just outside Cleveland, Ohio but spent the early part of his fight career competing in Pittsburgh, so he had a huge local contingency coming out to see him this week.
Unfortunately, his opponent John Lineker came down with a case of Dengue fever that forced him out of the fight just a few days ago but Garbrandt was determined to remain on the card against whoever the UFC put in the Octagon with him.
Mendes was a high level Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and it was clear he wanted to get the fight to the ground, but outside of one brief scramble, he barely found the mat until Garbrandt planted him there late in the first round.
UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz pre-fight press conference
Garbrandt stayed in complete control on the feet using his powerful hands to back Mendes up time after time while the grappler searched for answers as he attempted to avoid the knockout strike.
It was only a matter of time, however, until Garbrandt found a home for a beautiful left-right combination that floored Mendes with two vicious punches in a row. Garbrandt celebrated for a moment thinking the fight was over, but the referee didn’t quite stop it so he was forced to jump in and deliver a couple more shots before Mendes was finally down and out.
The crowd roared for Garbrandt as he definitely got the biggest ovation for anybody on the card and after his third UFC win, he immediately asked for his previous fight with Lineker to get set up again.
"As soon as John heals from his illness," Garbrandt said when asked how soon he wants to fight again. "I’ve got an ass whooping to give him."