Cody Garbrandt says he is still recovering from COVID-19 symptoms more than two months after testing positive for the virus but believes he will be ready to challenge Deiveson Figueiredo for the UFC's flyweight title in March.
And yes, he is very confident Figueiredo will still be the champion, even though he's scheduled to defend his title against Brandon Moreno (18-5-1) at UFC 256 on Dec. 12.
"I feel like [Figueiredo] is gonna run over that kid," Garbrandt told ESPN. "That's another lamb being led to the slaughterhouse, and that's fine. Let him build up that hype, that 'Holy s---, this kid is the real deal.' There will be no backing down from me. I'm excited for this fight."
A former bantamweight champion, Garbrandt (12-3) was supposed to face Figueiredo (20-1) for the 125-pound championship at UFC 255 on Nov. 21 in Las Vegas but was forced to pull out of the bout in October.
At the time, Garbrandt attributed his withdrawal to a torn biceps. He has since clarified it was not a torn biceps but a torn vein in his arm caused by a blood clot. Physicians told Garbrandt the clot was likely the result of his COVID-19 diagnosis, which is known to thicken a patient's blood.
Garbrandt said he also suffered from vertigo, body aches and fatigue. He is still on medication for the blood clots, but the situation has improved. He has not experienced vertigo in two and a half weeks. He has also not produced a negative COVID-19 test since August but has not been getting tested regularly.
The 29-year-old is aiming for a return on March 6. Garbrandt has never fought at 125 pounds, but he does not anticipate any trouble making the weight. Garbrandt says his current walk-around weight is 143 pounds, which is likely much lower than Figueiredo's.
"I just think he smashes everyone in this division [other than me]," Garbrandt said. "These guys sit there in front of him, and that's where he throws bombs. I move too much. I'm too quick. I'm in and out. These fighters don't know how to fight backwards. Pressure is all they know. My game plan will be how I fought Dominick Cruz [when he won the title in 2017]."