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02nd Nov 2017

This clash with Conor McGregor almost got Cody Garbrandt kicked out of the UFC

Dana White was not happy

Darragh Murphy

How different Cody Garbrandt’s career could have been.

The reigning UFC bantamweight champion has been hailed as the promotion’s “next big star” by president Dana White but Garbrandt came so close to being cut adrift in 2015.

Garbrandt is one of only two champions in the UFC to hold a perfect professional record and while flawless records matter a lot less in mixed martial arts than they do in boxing, they certainly don’t hurt.

‘No Love’ has got all the ingredients required to make a superstar and, with the UFC in desperate need of guaranteed pay-per-view successes, his breakthrough couldn’t have come at a better time.

But Garbrandt’s UFC career was almost cut short before it even gathered momentum because an altercation with Conor McGregor on The Ultimate Fighter set two years ago almost saw the Team Alpha Male prospect removed from the UFC roster.

McGregor was coaching opposite Team Alpha Male head coach Urijah Faber on the 22nd season of the reality show and a running theme of that particular series was McGregor’s constant goading of TJ Dillashaw, who held the 135lbs title at the time and was one of the stand-out fighters from the Sacramento-based camp.

The season coincided with the souring of the relationship between Dillashaw and Team Alpha Male due to the fighter’s decision to switch allegiances to work under Duane Ludwig in Colorado.

Faber had let the basics of the Dillashaw situation slip whilst in conversation with McGregor and ‘The Notorious’ was like a dog with a bone as he repeatedly referred to Dillashaw as a snake in the grass.

The whole situation came to a head with Garbrandt defending his then-teammate and shoving the Irishman in an act which almost saw his UFC contract terminated.

“I was almost kicked out of the UFC for sticking up him against Conor on The Ultimate Fighter, if you recall that incident we had,” Garbrandt told BT Sport.

“Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta] called Urijah [Faber]. I was only one or two fights into my UFC career. I didn’t have a big name for myself but when someone asks you to fight and I’m sticking up TJ and, in retrospect, he’s telling us that he’s with us when we asked him about the rumours.

“He was out there at the time, on the show. I wasn’t really good friends with him. He was a teammate and that’s who I stick up for. Team Alpha Male is everything to me, it’s a family.

“I love that team and I’d do anything for it so I stuck up for TJ on there and I almost lost my contract while this guy was lying to us.

“That’s why I have so much animosity towards him, I couldn’t care less if he left.”

As fate would have it, Garbrandt is set to defend his bantamweight title for the first time weekend against none other than Dillashaw in one of the most anticipated grudge matches in years.

Legitimate animosity exists between the two greatest 135lbers in the world and they will get to settle their differences in the centre of the Octagon at Madison Square Garden in the co-main event of UFC 217 this Saturday night.