Rob Font just picked up the biggest win of his career but finds himself in a rare conundrum wondering what his next move will be.
The fight played out exactly as he had hoped, but the fallout of the breakout performance has left Font, and many MMA pundits scratching their heads as to how to follow up that big win.
“It’s a great relief,” Font told MMA Fighting. “It’s kind of like you say it, you believe it, you can think it all day, but when it actually happens exactly the way that you planned it, it’s even better.
“Now I’m just in a weird situation where I don’t know who I’m fighting next.”
Font has now won four straight, and five of six following his first UFC main event. The New England Cartel co-founder out-landed Garbrandt by 113 significant strikes throughout the five rounds, with his 176 total significant strikes total shattering his previous career high set in his decision win over Sergio Pettis at UFC on FOX 31 in December 2018.
While Font was hoping to stop Garbrandt inside of two rounds, he believes this result was better in the long run.
“It worked out perfect, man,” Font said. “We had to be smart. We had to be real smooth with our jab and our cross, not go too big. I got a little big sometimes but my corner was able to rope me back in. I didn’t get that finish, that’s what we wanted, but that kid was tough. He toughed it out and took some big shots. I hit him with some clean shots, but I can’t complain. We got the W, we got in, got out, and we’re healthy—a couple of bumps and bruises, but that’s about it.
“But [it’s almost better that it went the distance] because it puts it in people’s minds that I can strike with the best of them, or it wasn’t just a lucky punch. It showed I can get in there and that cardio is not an issue. I definitely feel I get better throughout the rounds. I get pushed so hard in sparring that fighting is just another day for me. But it definitely worked out better this way because I got to experience the full five rounds and that I can go the full five rounds at a high pace, at a high clip with a dangerous striker. Nobody stands in front of Cody like that, survives that long [and wins]. I took his shots, he took mine and we both went at it. I had more pressure and more energy, a little more enthusiastic than he was that night. Sometimes you’re just on and I was definitely on.”
With the loss, Garbrandt has now lost four of his past five fights. “No Love” returned following a 15-month lay off at UFC 250 and delivered one of 2020’s best knockouts against Raphael Assuncao right before the horn sounded at the end of the second round.
As of now, the path is not clear for Font, who has certainly earned his spot among the division’s elite. With current champion Aljamain Sterling recovering from neck surgery in hopes of a November return for his first title defense, Petr Yan seems to be the most likely candidate to run it back with Sterling after losing the belt via disqualification at UFC 259 due to an illegal knee.
After defeating a former world champion, Font was asked to give his best case scenario with the current logjam in one of the UFC’s deepest and most exciting divisions.
“Best case scenario? They give me Petr Yan right now and we get it going,” Font stated. “Maybe do it for an interim belt, but I doubt that happens. We’ll see what’s up, but give me Petr Yan. He’s the only one available, the fans want to see exciting fights and I know that’s an exciting fight and then I’ll take care of the belt for him. Just sit back, don’t worry about the belt, I’ll take it for him.
“Or, the loser, winner, whoever, of the Cory Sandhagen-T.J. Dillashaw fight. I definitely don’t want to wait that long, though. But you never know what happens if someone gets hurt, injured, that’s another waiting list I could potentially be on. Realistically, I know I don’t want to fight backwards. I’ll be patient. I’ve sat a year and I know what that feels like. There’s no need to fight anyone that’s behind me right now.”
Regardless of who Font stands across the octagon from next, he knows he will have his hands full. Just as he did before the opportunity to face Garbrandt came along, Font plans to get back in the gym as soon as possible to prepare himself for whatever is next—including a hopeful matchup with Yan should he be hankering to get back to action while waiting for Sterling to return to the octagon.
“If he wants to toss it up, we can jump in there and mix it up if he doesn’t want to wait that long,” Font said. “I’m in a weird spot and it’s nothing but big fights after this so my job is to lick my wounds, get back in the gym and get prepared because it’s either gonna be T.J., Cory, Petr Yan, or the champ and all of those fights are tough.”