UFC 296 has added a fun bantamweight matchup to the card. Early this morning, Marcel Dorff was the first to report on X that former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (13-5) would be making his return in December as he takes on Brian “Boom” Kelleher (24-14).
UFC 296 goes down on December 16th from Las Vegas. This is actually a fight that Dana White alluded to last week after The Contender Series. Joe Reeves won the Match Maker for a Day sweepstakes for the promotion and was ultimately hired by White and the UFC to be a new matchmaker. While in Vegas, Reeves met Cody Garbrandt who expressed interested in fighting in December. Reeves and the team got together and made this fight happen.
It’s a big fight for Brian Kelleher who hasn’t fought since last June when he lost to Mario Bautista. Kelleher has dealt with some injuries that had him questioning his fighting future, but he’s back and now he’s taking on a former champion. He’s 3-3 in his last six but the three losses have been to Bautista, Umar Nurmagomedov, and Ricky Simon. Not exactly the easiest competition for Boom.
Former UFC champion Cody Garbrandt has always been one of those what ifs in terms of his career. I really wonder what could’ve been had injuries not completely derailed his career. Back in 2016, he put on the performance of his career dominating Dominick Cruz to become bantamweight champion.
Injuries delayed his first title defense against TJ Dillashaw until almost a year later when Dillashaw knocked him out. Almost another year after that, they ran it back and Dillashaw once against stopped Garbrandt. Starting with those two losses, “No Love” went 1-5 in six fights while getting knocked out in four of the five losses. He even tried dropping to 125 where he was knocked out by Kai-Kara France.
He returned to bantamweight at UFC 285 back in March and won a decision against Trevin Jones. It wasn’t the best performance, but Garbrandt got the win. He was supposed to face Mario Bautista in August, but another injury forced him to pull out of the fight. Now, he’ll attempt to remain healthy enough to fight at UFC 296 and hopefully get his second win of the year.