NorCal MMA’s Review of The Pact by Cody Garbrandt with Mark Dagostino


Cody “No Love” Garbrandt has never broken a promise, though he did shatter the jawline of any foe in front of him en route to fulfilling his promise to Maddux Maple, a five-year-old boy who battled, and defeated, cancer.

“Live to fight. Fight to live.” (p. 95)

What’s It About?

In Garbrandt’s memoir, The Pact (2018), a heart-warming bond between a fighter from the wrong side of Ohio’s tracks and a child dealt a raw deal grips readers to a page-turning journey of triumph.

Garbrandt and Maddux could have easily become statistics, but the power of positivity, their warrior spirit, and a verbal contract transformed each of these underdogs into champions. Often, a codependency can prove toxic; however, in the case of these two special individuals, it created a beautiful story for all to enjoy.

“When I started down this road with Maddux, I thought I was helping him, not the other way around.” (p. 92)

Writing Style

Penned with Mark Dagostino, The Pact reads like an instructional manual to a winning mindset. The key: visualization. Any image, even a dream in the dead of night, can be willed into existence.

“I went to bed that night feeling totally helpless. I pictured those eyes that I’d only seen in photos, and I prayed to God that Maddux would be okay. I fell asleep, and at some point during the night I woke up with a vision of that little boy standing next to me. We were in a stadium full of people. He was walking beside me. He was strong. The crowd was cheering.” (p. 79)

Neither of these battle-tested beings stopped at merely picturing the outcome of their choosing; instead, they pursued their mental painting with an unprecedented amount of purpose, which is vividly constructed, one black-and-white paragraph stacked on top of another, over the course of 215 pages.

The Power of Love

As individuals, Garbrandt and Maddux possess a unique ability to traverse obstacles. Together, the unlikely duo could bulldoze anything attempting to barricade them from completing their respective missions.

Behind the decoratively inked body armor and steel-plated fists of “No Love” is a soft side, evidenced in the connection between he and Maddux that bubbles to the surface like a pop-up book. Iron may sharpen iron in the gym, but love allowed these two to pierce every problem they encountered.

“If Maddux, this little kid, this child who was so new to life, could find the strength to do battle with cancer, then I most certainly could find the strength to fight off the demons that kept popping up in my life.” (p. 86)

“When I started down this road with Maddux, I thought I was helping them [the Maples], not the other way around.” (p. 92)

Garbrandt’s recollection of events in The Pact wasn’t all roses and rainbows. In fact, the reason the prominent prizefighter sealed “the pact” with Maddux was because Maddux, at this juncture of his treatment, wanted to throw in the towel.

“I tell you what, Maddux. Like, you make this promise to me that you will take your medicine. You won’t complain. You’ll just do it. A few months, buddy, and done. You do that, and I promise that I’ll make it to the UFC and I’ll make sure that you’re at every one of my fights. And more than that, I promise you that I’ll win the world title, and you’ll walk me down for that too.” (p.151)

The rest is now history.


For opening such a remarkable story like a printed portal—along with the tear ducts of any readers—and mapping an emotional roller coaster ride until Garbrandt, eventually, wrapped the UFC Bantamweight Championship around the waist of Maddux, would give The Pact no less than five out of five stars—Scout’s honor!


Within the binding of The Pact, the one known as “No Love,” sought solace, and he found it with Maddux by his side!

“I felt peace.” (p.215)


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