MMA fighter Cody “No Love” Garbrandt is a caged animal.
Tell us a little about your last fight.
I felt great! It went as planned, from the first strike that I landed. I felt great after the fight, got back in the gym, and hopefully, the next fight will be in December for the title against Cruz.
How do you think the Dominick Cruz fight’s gonna go?
Whether I knock him out in the first found or the fifth—I’m going to win that title.
Tell us a little bit about your tattoos.
I got “True Love” tattooed on my knuckles, because fighting is my true love, my passion. I got a grenade blowing up on my hand because I throw bombs. I can always count on my “bomb hand” to connect and knock someone out. I’ve got my neck tattoo with the wings and the diamond. I’ve got my area code tattooed on me because I’m very thankful for my roots.
You’re from Ohio, right?
Yeah, Uhrichsville, Ohio, 922.
When did you start getting tattooed?
My uncle had these sketchbooks that he would constantly be drawing in. He tattooed my grandfather, my biological father, and my other uncle. They were all tattooed so I thought it was the norm. Growing up without too many positive role models, I would look up to the high school kids, the football players, wrestlers, most of them had tattoos and I just thought it was cool. That’s where I wanted to be, so I got my first tattoo when I was 13. It’s still there on my back. I haven’t touched it; it’s a cross with a ribbon. I’ve thought about getting a cover up, but it takes time, and tattoos hurt. I can probably only sit for three hours or so.
What hurts more, getting kicked in the face or getting tattooed?
I would say getting tattooed. If you think about it, you get kicked in the face and you’re knocked out—it’s done. Once you start getting tattooed, from that first line, you have to sit through that. You have to finish that piece. My buddy was tattooing my neck, and after a while he asked if I wanted to keep going. What am I gonna do? Walk around with a little line on my neck? So we blasted through it.
What was the inspiration for the neckpiece?
It has a couple different meanings. The “Self Made” logo reminds me that I’m responsible for what I am today. The diamond, well, diamonds are made under pressure, and I’ve conquered adversity. The wings, those were put on because the sky’s the limit. I like all of that, and I’ve always wanted a neckpiece. Most people just see it as a neck tattoo, but it has meaning to it.
What got you into fighting?
I grew up fighting. We lived on the wrong side of the tracks and just grew up scrappin’. My mom put me in wrestling, and once my uncle got out of prison he became my boxing trainer and I started boxing. He’s been my boxing trainer since I was 14 years old.
Who were the fighters that you looked up to as a kid?
My favorite fighter hands down, to this day is Chuck Lidell. His whole approach to fighting, working with the media, being the champion, partying, he was the first one to really balance all of that. He was the first superstar of the UFC. I loved him for his style, you knew what you were getting with Chuck Lidell.
Anyone from the WWE that inspired you early on?
Macho Man Randy Savage, obviously Rick Flair WOOO! I’m a big Stone Cold Steve Austin fan, but Goldberg was badass. I would say one of my favorite wrestlers of all time is Sting. I remember wearing a Sting shirt the first day of second grade, and I met one of my best friends because we had the same Sting shirt on. We grew up together and been best friends since. I just loved Sting’s intro, he was quiet, didn’t talk. He was mysterious.
What did you see yourself doing before UFC?
I always thought I would do something like this. I was into boxing, I wrestled and I was always really competitive. When I was growing up, UFC was just starting out, but I visualized myself becoming a fighter since I was 11 or 12 years old. I’ve never imagined myself not being a fighter.
What are your thoughts on how the sport has changed?
I’m grateful for where the sport’s at right now because there’s a huge opportunity for fighters like myself. But the old school guys really paved the way, doing four fights a night to become UFC champion. Those days are long gone, but I would love an opportunity like that. Imagine maybe having the top four guys in a division fight over the course of one or two days.
Do you think the way UFC is scored makes it seem fairer than boxing?
If judges have a favorite fighter going into a fight, and want a specific outcome, than when it comes down to a decision you’re more likely to have a tie. That kind of result is what produces lackluster performances. When boxing is flourishing it’s because you have a Mike Tyson or a Muhammad Ali. With MMA, you have all types of martial arts, some kid who has been doing karate since he was three, he wants to do MMA, so you have the karate people, the jiu jitsu people, the boxers, the wrestlers, the muay thai guys. That’s why it’s expanded so much.
What was your toughest fight?
My toughest fight was my brother, I was 17. That was the last time we fought, definitely my toughest fight to date. We fought for a good 45 minutes to an hour. We drove out to a back road and fought each other.
Would you ever fight Conor McGregor?
Sure, but I have adversaries that I have to dispose of in my division, my focus is on Cruz and getting that title. I want to dethrone the bantamweight king, and them going up to fight Connor McGregor if he’s still the champ in that division.