Cody was born July 7, 1991 and raised in Uhrichsville, Ohio. His father and grandfather had a reputation for their frequent bar brawls, so growing up in a household where fighting was a passion, easily influenced Cody. His mother did not like fighting at all and did not want her youngest son Cody or his older brother Zach to follow the same path as their father. She knew she couldn’t remove what their father had engrained in their minds through his actions, so she did what she thought was a good compromise and enrolled them into wrestling camp. This actually backfired because unbeknownst to her, Cody had already been sneaking out to the local YMCA with his brother to box and hit the punch bags…

Thanks to her, Cody had now added another form to his arsenal. He officially began boxing at the age of 15 and was trained by his uncle, who was an Olympic alternate in the sport. While in high school during the wrestling season Cody competed and won the State Championship as a freshman in 2007. He also played football and won All-State honors as a linebacker. He was also a Senior National All-American in 2010, but ultimately turned his focus to boxing over wrestling.

As an amateur boxer he went on and compiled a 32 win record that ultimately paved the way to his first MMA fight in 2009. After a brief attendance at Notre Dame College, Cody realized his true calling and dropped out. He became a professional MMA fighter in 2012 and went on to win the World Bantamweight Champion title in 2016.

His dream of becoming a professional fighter became his reality…

1991

Cody was born and raised in Uhrichsville, Ohio, and is of partial Native American descent. Cody and his older bother Zach followed in the footsteps of their father and grandfather with a love to fight.

1995 - Early Years

In Cody and Zach’s early years, uncle Bob (Robert Meece, Olympic Alternate in boxing) took them to the gyms where he trained, strapped on 16-ounce boxing gloves and let them whale on each other. He put them on treadmills and sped them up until the boys flew off. “I was always scared to death of Bob,” Cody says now, laughing. “He was crazy.” Not wanting her boys growing up punch-drunk, their Mother, Jessica, sent them to wrestling camps when they were four and five years old.

2006 - Freshman State Champion

At 14, Cody joined the high school wrestling team and excelled. He proved to be a natural, winning a state championship as a freshman.

2007/8 - State finalist Brothers
This is a simple headline

Cody Garbrandt, Wayne Garabrandt, Kyle Ditcher, Chris Kovach, Ryder Dynes, Zach Garbrandt qualify for the State Tournament. Cody Garbrandt becomes Claymont’s first freshman State Champion. Zach Garbrandt and Wayne Garabrandt finish 4th in the State. The team wins Conference and Sectional Titles and finishes 5th in the State with 56 points.

2009 - Amateur Boxing

His tendency to fight, though, led him to change high schools as a senior. He was recruited as a wrestler to Michigan State, but some academic qualifying issues helped him land at Newberry College in South Carolina.

But his wrestling days were quickly coming to a close.

“I guess my heart wasn’t into it anymore,” he said. “I was doing boxing, and that’s what I wanted to do.”

2011 - Amateur MMA

His tendency to fight, though, led him to change high schools as a senior. He was recruited as a wrestler to Michigan State, but some academic qualifying issues helped him land at Newberry College in South Carolina.

But his wrestling days were quickly coming to a close.

“I guess my heart wasn’t into it anymore,” he said. “I was doing boxing, and that’s what I wanted to do.”

2011/12 - Maddux Maple

Sometime in the summer of 2011, Zach told Cody about a kid in town he should try to meet, Maddux. He’d just been diagnosed with leukemia, and meeting a fighter might lift his spirits.

After trying to work it out for months—Maddux was too sick—Cody finally met him January 22, 2012, nearly a year before his first professional MMA fight. The boy was only five, and skinny, and bald. To this day Cody will cry as he recalls it all, especially the sight of a kid and his fragile innocence taking that beating from cancer.

When he met Cody, Maddux and his chemo-addled brain processed that first meeting thusly: “Who the heck is this guy with all these crazy tattoos? Oh my gosh! Is Dad trying to kill me by bringing this killer in? Who the heck would come visit me? This is awesome!”

Cody got to know Maddux over the years, and they helped each other seeing life from a different view. Here is a kid that fights for his life every day, and Cody chose to fight, so no matter how tired, sore, or beat up Cody was, he leaned towards him because Maddux fight was 24/7, 365 days a year.

“He is my motivation and walks me to battle, sometimes so sick that it hurts him to stand, but we walk hand-in-hand to battle cause no one should ever have to fight that kind of battle alone. We both made promises to each other years ago. He would beat cancer, and I would make a name in the UFC, and we would do it together. GOD IS GOOD!”  Cody Garbrandt.

2012 - Last Amateur MMA Fight

Maddux was too sick to make the trip to Cleveland for the fight against Jerrell Hodge. Cody walked to the cage wearing an orange T-shirt that read “MADD ABOUT MADDUX,” with the same phrase on his shorts alongside “922” and his sponsors. He spent Rounds 1 and 2 “whupping the dude’s ass,” Cody recalls, and started Round 3 with a vicious exchange.

He dodged a punch, moved to counter—and the world went black. A right hook had found his chin.

Even flat on the mat with his brain turned off, Cody’s hands stayed up. Getting knocked out woke Cody up. “The life I was living, man,” he says, “it was karma that happened.” And in the karma, a lesson: “I wasn’t unstoppable.”