Cody Garbrandt: The next alpha male

Cody Garbrandt excited to join his teammates in the upper echelon of the UFC 

Britton Wasmer/FST Photos used b/Getty Images

If you ever walk into the Ultimate Fitness Center in the heart of downtown Sacramento, there’s a good chance you’ll run into at least two or three top fighters from the UFC at any one time.

The California gym is home to Team Alpha Male, one of the premier training camps in all of mixed martial arts, led by former WEC champion Urijah Faber.  The team boasts an impressive array of fighters and credentials while being most notable as the camp responsible for producing some of the best competitors in the history of the lighter weight divisions from lightweight down to flyweight.

Team Alpha Male has never been about collecting champions but instead building them from within.  For instance, UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw started working with the Sacramento based team as soon as he finished his college-wrestling career.  The same could be said for former NCAA All-American Lance Palmer, who transitioned from the Ohio State wrestling room to Team Alpha Male and now he stands as one of the best featherweights in the sport.

So when top prospect Cody Garbrandt was looking for a camp to help take him to the next level it didn’t take long for him to choose Team Alpha Male as his new home.

Garbrandt (5-0) already came from a background that was tailor made for mixed martial arts — a high school wrestler who then fell in love with boxing while amassing an impressive amateur career in both sports.  It didn’t take a genius to figure out why he was instantly attracted to fighting and before long he was racking up wins and gaining a reputation as a thrill-seeking bantamweight on the rise.

When the lights come on, I fight even harder. I get a chance to showcase my skills. I do have a lot of hype around me and I get the chance to prove it

— Cody Garbrandt

Coming out of Ohio, Garbrandt was ingrained with the Midwestern, blue-collar work ethic and it’s something he’s carried forward in his MMA career.

"Ohio people they are some tough mofo’s there," Garbrandt told FOX Sports.  "Ohio’s just a different breed.  Coming from a wrestling background and then amateur boxing it definitely carried over in California.  Seeing some of local shows on the west coast and then back in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the fighting scene is definitely tougher on the east coast. 

"A lot of them would like to argue but I’ve been to a lot of regional shows and there’s definitely a lot of tough nosed people in Ohio.  It definitely carried over and I’m proud to be from Ohio and rep Ohio in the UFC."

As Garbrandt started getting noticed more during the earliest stages of his professional career, he knew to get to the next plateau he was going to have to step up his training regimen.  That meant leaving Ohio and another gym he worked at in neighboring Pittsburgh to make the cross-country trip to California so he could begin working with the team most equipped to help him make a run at the UFC.

"I was very happy to go out there and train with those guys.  I wanted to see how far I could take this so I wanted to see how I matched up with the top of the top and training with those guys gave me a lot of confidence," Garbrandt said.  "Those guys are at that elite level and going with them everyday has just made me better.  As the lights turn on, I only shine brighter now.  I can’t be more thankful for those guys and really glad to call Team Alpha Male my home."

Garbrandt’s move to California didn’t mean he left everything he built back in Ohio.  As a matter of fact, Garbrandt’s uncle still acts as his head boxing coach after the duo formulated a system that’s never failed him during his career.

"My boxing coach is my uncle and we came up with our own number system that we came up with to work from our left to our right," Garbrandt explained.  "A lot of fighters don’t know how to work left and right with angles, getting off on both sides.  A lot of fighters are straight forward and straight back so we learned to fight on all angles. To have the knockout power in all angles and the way we move worked right into my wrestling.  It was easy to adapt to MMA."

The results are easy to see when looking at Garbrandt’s resume.

He’s undefeated as a pro with five wins in five fights with all of them ending within the first two rounds.  Garbrandt doesn’t enjoy decisions so he’s gone out and scorched opponents time after time with fast hands and explosive kicks.

He believes his style played a major role in why he got the call up from the UFC when he did.

"It’s a huge part of why I’m here.  I finish fights," Garbrandt said.  "I’m not looking to grind out a decision.  I want to end it from the opening bell to the final bell.  Until the fight’s over I’m trying to finish the fight."

Nothing can duplicate a fight in the UFC so it’s no surprise many competitors brimming with confidence wilted under the bright lights and the big stage.  Garbrandt has heard all about the infamous Octagon jitters, but that’s yet another reason why he started working with the fighters at Team Alpha Male.

On any given day he’s sparring with the best 135-pound fighter on the planet and going on the ground with Urijah Faber.  He works wrestling with Palmer and top ranked featherweight contender Chad Mendes. 

In other words, Garbrandt is never short on great training partners that push him to the limit and back again.  There’s nothing he’ll see in the Octagon on Saturday night that he hasn’t already faced in the training room.

"I want to fight the top guys.  I’m training with the champion and all the top ranked guys," Garbrandt said.

"When the lights come on, I fight even harder. I get a chance to showcase my skills.  I do have a lot of hype around me and I get the chance to prove it.  Saturday, I get to prove why I got the call up and why I belong here."