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Cody Brundage reacts after his knockout victory over Tresean Gore in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 09, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Cody Brundage Showing Up To Win

Middleweight Looks To Right The Ship vs Jacob Malkoun Saturday In Las Vegas

As a wrestler for most of his life, Cody Brundage has some habits that will be hard to break. Most are good, some have hurt him in his day job as a professional mixed martial artist. But, as they say, the first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one, and let’s just say the 29-year-old is working on what he needs to.

First issue – taking short notice fights, which he is doing once again when he faces Jacob Malkoun on Saturday in Las Vegas. That’s a good habit from wrestling because he’s always in the gym and always in shape and ready to go. The bad habit is believing he can take on the world because he’s in shape.

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“I feel like I train very hard, and I stay in good shape, and I don't cut a ton of weight,” Brundage explains. “And that breeds an attitude of feeling like I can fight pretty consistently short notice. And a lot of people probably say, ‘Well, you're not winning any of these fights you're taking short notice.’ And I think that's more of me making mistakes and not an indication of my preparedness to take the fight. But, at the point I'm at now, I train really hard, I'm ready, and cardio wise, I'm never out of it far enough to where I feel like I should say no if it's a matchup that we like.”

Cody Brundage poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on September 22, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Cody Brundage poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on September 22, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Thus far, Brundage has taken fights with Nick Maximov, Tresean Gore, Michal Oleksiejczuk and Sedriques Dumas on short notice. He left those fights with a 1-3 record. Granted, the loss to Maximov was a close one many believed could have gone the other way, and he halted Gore in less than four minutes, but the other ones point to a fighter who could have served himself better by waiting to have a full camp. But the wrestler’s mentality is that if you’re competing dozens of times over the course of a season, an occasional setback doesn’t really set you back too much.

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“In wrestling, I'm competing between 45 and 60 times a year,” he said. “And so, a loss doesn't hold as much weight. I could lose in the tournament, go win six in a row and then come back and take third in the tournament and feel good about my day. But if you lose in MMA, you might be sitting on it for three, four months, and if you say no to fights, you might be sitting on it for six, seven months. So if there's matchups that I think I like, and there haven't been many that I haven't liked so far (Laughs), I’ll take them.”

Fair enough, and that might be a good and bad habit, as well. As for the one habit from Brundage’s days on the mat that he wishes to eliminate, it’s the tendency to always have the foot on the gas, when easing up at certain times could produce a win without being in the line of fire.

Cody Brundage Stuns Gore With First-Round KO | UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs Fiziev
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Cody Brundage Stuns Gore With First-Round KO | UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs Fiziev
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“Part of the trouble I've gotten in to, in terms of in wrestling, is that it’s not just good enough to win the fight or win the match,” he said. “You’ve got to get your team bonus points. You’ve got to go for a pin. If you're up by seven, you got to win by eight. It's never like, ‘Oh, well you won.’ That's good enough. And in fighting that is good enough. And sometimes I feel like I push when I should maybe brake a little bit. I'm on the gas when I should maybe downshift. So that's something I'm working on.”

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Luckily, he’s got time, as he hasn’t reached 30 yet, and he is still only four years into a pro career that began in 2019. Of course, winning is paramount at this level of the sport, so a three-fight losing streak is never good, but as he approaches this weekend’s bout with Malkoun, he’s not putting any added pressure on himself. Brundage always shows up to win, and that’s not changing.

Cody Brundage reacts after his knockout victory over Tresean Gore in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 09, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Cody Brundage reacts after his knockout victory over Tresean Gore in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 09, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“I'd rather be in the UFC and take my lumps against the best guys in the world and figure it out,” said Brundage, who made his Octagon debut with a 6-1 pro record. “Because when I figure it out, man, it's going to be really impressive, and this is an opportunity for me to show that I figured it out and turned the corner a little bit. And that's how I'm looking at it. Me and my coach (Marc Montoya) always joke about it; we're like, if I go out there and do what I do in the gym, if I go and I translate it, everyone from my team will be like, ‘Man, finally this kid did this.’ And everyone else will be like, ‘Who the hell was that guy?’ So it's just trying to get it to translate. But, like I said, I feel like this is a good matchup to do that. We have similar things that we're good at and that can lead to having the ability to show growth. So I'm looking forward to it.”

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Every fighter says they’re looking forward to getting into an eight-sided cage on a Saturday night with someone trained to beat them in front of an entire fanbase of people. Most are lying to you. But Brundage has always been an open book, and yes, he knows he’s lost three in a row and could be fighting for his job against a kid who came a long way from Australia to punch him in the face. Yet every word coming out of his mouth sounds genuine. For real, he can’t wait for this.

Cody Brundage Secures Comeback Guillotine Win | UFC Fight Night Santos vs Ankalaev
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Cody Brundage Secures Comeback Guillotine Win | UFC Fight Night Santos vs Ankalaev
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“I feel like my last fight (against Dumas), I was like, if I lose, I'm going to get cut,” he said. “But I didn't end up getting cut. So I kind of had to face that emotion and that demon of ‘Oh, you might be done with this thing that you've poured a decent amount of time and energy and sacrifice into.’ And so when I didn't get cut, it's like, okay, well you thought you were going to and that didn't happen. Your life didn't change that much when you thought it was going to. So you need to just let go of the things that are holding you back. You need to let go of the things that are stifling your chance to be successful. And so I feel like going into this fight, I feel a lot less pressure and more just like I just want to get back to having fun. That's my biggest focus. It's just, go fight the dude. And that's exactly what it needs to be. It doesn't need to be, you need to hit this specific combination, you need to hit this specific wrestling technique. It just needs to be, go out and fight the dude because that's what you want to do and that's what you like doing. And then the results will take care of themselves.”

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UFC Fight Night: Fiziev vs Gamrot took live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 23, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass