Font (18-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) would much rather embrace the moment. His headlining spot, which streams on ESPN+ from the UFC Apex, is his first since joining the promotion in 2014, and it comes against Garbrandt (12-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC), who is a highly regarded former titleholder in the bantamweight division.
It’s been a long road filled with starts and stops, as well as injuries and personal setbacks, but Font said he’s finally at home.
“This feels right,” Font told MMA Junkie at UFC Fight Night 188 media day on Wednesday. “This is what I’ve worked so hard for, and I’m excited to finally be here. (I was) starting to think I’m Santa Claus coming around once a year in December. I finally put three (wins) back-to-back, finally beat a top-five guy, and finally here in a main event versus a guy in Cody Garbrandt, a former champion, a big name and a scary fight.”
Garbrandt has had hiccups of his own getting to this point. He won the 135-pound belt in December 2016 but has only had his hand raised once in the 53 months since then. “No Love” ended a three-fight losing skid the last time he stepped in the cage, and after a taxing bout with COVID-19 in late 2020, there are fair questions as to where Garbrandt is at in his career.
Font said he can’t allow himself to question whether Garbrandt has lost a step, though. He needs to prepare for his best possible form.
“One hundred percent (he’s still dangerous),” Font said. “You saw what he did to (Raphael) Assuncao, man, that was pretty cool. He’s dangerous. He’s had the belt, so he’s tasted it. I’m pretty sure he’s dying to get that back, but so am I. I’m dying to just fight and then obviously to get into that talk about fighting for the title, as well.”
A win would put Font on a four-fight winning streak and deep in the title conversation. There’s a bit of a logjam at bantamweight with champion Aljamain Sterling expected to rematch Petr Yan in his return from injury and then a big fight between Cory Sandhagen and T.J. Dillashaw slated for July 24.
Patience will be Font’s friend on the other side of Saturday’s fight, he said, but he expects to be part of the conversation no matter which direction the division goes.
“I obviously would love the title shot; I definitely think we’ve got to see how Cory Sandhagen and T.J. (Dillashaw) plays out,” Font said. “Technically, T.J. didn’t lose the belt. Cory’s on fire, though. He’s probably the most dangerous guy in the division. I want to see how that plays out. But I’ll be patient. I definitely don’t want to fight backwards, so we’ll see. I’m focused on Cody because this guy is dangerous, and I’m not looking past him at all, and I’m taking him very seriously.”