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Garbrandt KOs Almeida in night of upsets

Cody Garbrandt stayed undefeated and picked up his biggest win as he knocked out the previously undefeated

Cody Garbrandt stayed undefeated and picked up his biggest win as he knocked out the previously undefeated

UFC Fight Night 88 was supposed to be a big night for top undefeated bantamweight contenders Thomas Almeida and Aljamain Sterling; and it was supposed to be great return to featherweight for former Bantamweight champion Renan Barao, but the night did not play out that way.

Instead, it was rising bantamweight contender Cody Garbrandt who knocked out Almeida in just 2:53 to earn the biggest victory of his career, which is surely going to get him into the UFC rankings for the first time since his debut in early 2015.

Garbrandt was the more aggressive guy from the beginning and Almeida never moved his head to allow Garbrandt a wide open target to hit with his massively heavy hands. Garbrandt rocked Almeida with a right hook to start the end. Then he followed with a big left and a small follow up left to push him back against the cage. Then a massive right hook ended Almeida’s night before a few hammer fist while the referee was trying to pull him off to end the fight.

Garbrandt was well known as an aggressive striker and a talented fighter, but with only eight professional fights heading into his headliner against Almeida it was unclear what to expect. But he thrust himself right into the title picture with a dominant victory over the No. 9 contender in the division.

For Sterling, this was his first fight since his very loud contract negotiations with the UFC, but was edged by a split decision against Bryan Caraway, who earned by far his biggest victory of his UFC career.

Sterling was the heavier hitter, out-landing Caraway in significant strikes 32-9, but Caraway was busier, out-landing Sterling 69-56. Caraway also took Sterling down three times in the three-round fight. That was ultimately the different that led to his 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 decision victory.

But what is going on with Barao is very puzzling. He moved back up in weight after the speed of bantamweight T.J. Dillashaw embarrassed him in two title fights. He was always big for a bantamweight, so the return to featherweight made a lot of sense, but the former champion couldn’t even get a victory over the No. 9 contender in the division.

Stephens is a very tough fighter, so grinding out a victory wasn’t super surprising, but it still was not expected. Barao just wasn’t very active as Stephens out-landed Barao 73-51 in strikes and 55-43 in significant strikes. Barao did take Stephens down twice, but Stephens stuffed seven of his nine attempts.

The unanimous decision victory certainly figures to put Stephens to fight a top five fighter in the division to get further into the title picture. The loser of Max Hollway and Ricardo Lamas at UFC 199 might make a lot of sense for his next opponent. Cub Swanson could be a good option too.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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