The UFC Bantamweight Title picture in 2016 has thus far been about three men: Dominick Cruz, T.J. Dillashaw, and Urijah Faber. The interconnected story between the three men has been a source of drama throughout the year. The falling out between Dillashaw and Faber at Team Alpha Male led to Faber getting another crack at Cruz after a questionable decision took the belt from his former protege. Additionally, comments from Faber following Dillashaw’s exit have continued to rankle the former Bantamweight Champ, and he addressed his former friend and mentor once again this week.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour this week, Dillashaw talked about the UFC 199 bout between Cruz and Faber, Faber’s future, and why he feels Faber’s tried to keep himself relevant by invoking his name.
“It was kinda how I expected it to go down,” Dillashaw said of this month’s title bout. “I knew that Cruz’s footwork and feints and movement was going to be too much for Faber. He’s a very flat-footed fighter and hasn’t been making any gains. He’s kinda been the same fighter for the last ten years. I knew that Cruz was going to pick him apart.
“I kinda feel like Urijah’s been building his name off of me the last couple of years, ever since I won the belt. With me and Duane [Ludwig] and The Ultimate Fighter thing and Conor [McGregor], it’s just been bad mouthing me to make him look more relevant. It was a little bit unfortunate because I thought we were friends. I thought we were good friends. Just because I followed a coach that I thought has made my career better, [it] left a bad taste in his mouth. It’s just unfortunate the way everything went down. Kinda crazy, actually. Very childish.”
Dillashaw returns to the cage next week at UFC 200 when he tries to avenge a 2013 loss to Raphael Assuncao.
Penick’s Analysis: The reaction to Dillashaw from Team Alpha Male – Faber and Cody Garbrandt, specifically – wasn’t fair to Dillashaw. It had more to do with Faber’s issues with Duane Ludwig, but Ludwig had been beneficial to Dillashaw’s run to the top, and the team he was working with in Colorado boosted him more than staying with TAM would have at that point. Dillashaw wasn’t wrong in his move. As to Faber’s future title prospects, the only way he ever gets another shot at a UFC title is if Dillashaw wins the belt back from Cruz and Faber goes on a significant run. It’s a fight the UFC might want down the line, but a lot of things need to happen before that becomes a reality.
[Photo (c) Bob DeChiara via USA Today Sports]
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