T.J. Dillashaw’s move from Team Alpha Male to what is being called the Elevation Fight Team in Colorado has already led to a small subset of vocal fans accusing Dillashaw of “betraying” his longtime team. There are a number of problems with that line of thinking, but at the top of the list is Dillashaw taking advantage of an opportunity every fighter would have to consider.
“Last time I paid a lot of money… I had to put up a lot of money to do a fight camp,” Dillashaw said on Team Alpha Male Radio this week (transcribed by BloodyElbow.com). “Now, Elevation Fight Team came to me and they want to pay me some good money to train with them. They’re offering to pay me to train, instead of me paying to train.”
“This sport is growing so much that that’s the way I feel like it should be,” he continued. “We’re professional athletes. I feel like I got treated better in college wrestling. I had a physical therapist on hand at all times, no matter what, when I was in college. And that’s not where MMA is at yet. Now these teams are catching up and putting money into it.
“Really, if anybody else was in my situation, they would take the exact same deal. This is a very short-lived career. I have to do what’s best for myself. I have to do what’s best for my career and being on top for as long as possible. I can’t fight forever. I’ve got to fight and secure my future and decide what I’m gonna do with my life. This is a great opportunity.”
While the backlash has taken him aback slightly, Dillashaw says most have been supportive, and he believes there’s no reason to see this as a betrayal of the team.
“Most of everyone understands my situation and are very supportive. Pretty much everyone on the team, except for you know… except for a couple,” he said. “It’s just something I will have to figure out. With time hopefully it all dies down. I will always be Team Alpha Male family, in my mind, as long as everyone else feels that way.
“It’s a super tough subject for me to even talk about, I mean I want to cry right now… It doesn’t help that the Conor McGregor thing is going on in The Ultimate Fighter. It’s actually perfect timing. Maybe he is able to read the future. It’s just crazy that some people are thinking I’m [betraying] Team Alpha Male. It’s crazy. I’m just taking an opportunity that’s given to me and I’m just trying to run with it.”
Penick’s Analysis: This is a great, for lack of a better phrase, evolution for the sport, and Dillashaw absolutely made the right call for himself here. If this is something that becomes effective, perhaps we could see more money pumped in from outside to cover training costs for more fighters and dedicate resources to the elite. I don’t see how this betrayal idea has permeated; he’s doing what’s right for him and his career, and those who can’t see that are the unreasonable ones.