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Fightweets: Did T.J. Dillashaw betray Team Alpha Male?

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In this week's edition of As The MMA World Turns, there's drama at Team Alpha Male; Conor McGregor's once again flapping his yap; and the light heavyweight division is waiting for Jon Jones to make his next move.

So really, there's no reason to waste any more time getting into this week's edition of Fightweets.

Drama at Team Alpha Male

@RuckerYeah: Was Conor right? Is T.J. Dillashaw a snake in the grass?

Nah. Mixed martial arts is a business. Urijah Faber knows this as well as anyone, as he's been one of the sport's consummate businessmen over the years. Dillashaw, the UFC bantamweight champion, feels he's gone as far as he's going to go with Team Alpha Male. He feels like he can grow professionally and financially out with Duane Ludwig in Colorado. That's his right.

It's likewise Faber's right to tell Dillashaw he's either in or out at TAM, that there's no half-in and half-out, especially when there are so many bantamweights, or guys who could potentially go up or down to the weight class, in the gym. Why give Dillashaw first-hand access to guys he could be facing down the road if he's not all the way a member of the team?

Of course there's the potential for bruised feelings both sides. There's no way to go through what Faber and Dillashaw have gone through together and go though a public parting of the ways without some acrimony.

But Dillashaw has the right to make his own career decisions. Faber has he right to assert his authority over his gym. So long as neither is doing anything underhanded toward the other -- and God knows what details are yet to emerge -- both are in the right to make the decisions they've made.

When will we see Dillashaw-Faber?

@BigJuice19: So does TJ leaving open up a fight with Faber down the road?

Sure looks that way, doesn't it? Dillashaw's the champ. Faber is the top dog in his own gym, but is beneath Dillashaw in the 135 pecking order. Neither have come right out and said it, but the move has to be considered at least in part a nod to the fact that if the pieces fall together correctly, a Faber-Dillashaw fight is a natural draw.

If Dillashaw successfully defends his championship against Dominick Cruz in Boston in January -- which is far from a given -- then who else would make sense? Rafael Assuncao, who holds a win over Dillashaw, still has a ways to go before returning from ankle surgery. Dillashaw's routed Renan Barao twice. The rest of the top 10 is a mix of guys on their way up who aren't there yet and vets on their way down.

That leaves Faber. If he defeats Frankie Saenz at UFC 194, that would give Faber, against bantamweight competition, three straight wins since his loss in a title challenge to Barao and eight out of nine. Faber's 36. He's on the tail end of his run near the top. Add in the huge level of interest in the intrigue at Team Alpha Male and the timing for this fight would never be better.

When will McGregor go 155?

@hunt5588 If Mendes beats Edgar and Conor beats Aldo, is that the last 145 fight we see Conor in?

Those are a couple big ifs, there. But if the highly anticipated Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes vs. Frankie Edgar fights in December play out in that manner, then yes, a McGregor move to 155 looks likely.

McGregor's the smartest fighter we've seen since Chael Sonnen in terms of making sure he has several potential big fights on his horizon (Daniel Cormier is pretty good at this game, too). While most fighters are afraid to jinx themselves and stick to the "I'm just focusing on my next fight" script, McGregor works all the angles. If he defeats Aldo, there are only so many challenges left at 145 pounds. So that's why he went out of his way to get under the lightweights' skin at the Go Big press conference next month. Getting on Rafael dos Anjos' and Donald Cerrone's nerves now is a clip for the promo down the road if McGregor gets there.

Of course, for all McGregor's bluster about money, he's an absolutely driven competitor. So if Frankie Edgar does beat Mendes on Dec. 10, and McGregor follows with a win over Aldo the next night, then McGregor's still going to have unfinished business in the division, not to mention one hell of a sellable fight.

Meanwhile, don't underestimate the new IV hydration ban's effects on the sport. McGregor cuts a lot of weight to get down to the featherweight limit. He looked downright emaciated at the weigh-ins for the Mendes fight at UFC 189. Many fighters, on the record and off, have said they're going to give things a whirl without an IV at their current weight class once before deciding whether to move up a weight class. McGregor's already noted his difficulty cutting down (As has Aldo, for that matter). A sluggish performance at UFC 194 could make all this talk moot.

Money McGregor

@chad_panka Do u see a conflict brewing between UFC and Connor over $ with Connors recent comments about revenue that he gens

This is where Conor's ego's getting just a tad out of control. Yes, Mendes is a bigger star than he was before he fought McGregor. But this is not a magical quality unique only to Conor McGregor. Fighters have raised their profiles by competing with established stars, even in defeat, since the dawn of the fight game. It even continued right up to last week: How much bigger is Alexander Gustafsson in losing efforts to Jon Jones and Cormier than he was otherwise?

Likewise, while McGregor has indisputably kicked off the Irish MMA boom, the UFC sold out O2 Arena in Dublin years ago, back when McGregor bought a ticket and sat in the cheap seats, and continues to do so without his name on the marquee. McGregor no more deserves a cut of the money from the Dustin Poirier-Joseph Duffy fight than Georges St-Pierre did for shows in Montreal he didn't compete on. You can't blame McGregor for trying, but as of now, he's a still fighter with exactly one big PPV buy rate to his credit, one which was topped three weeks later by Ronda Rousey, who, incidentally, isn't angling to get a share of things she has nothing to do with.

Light heavyweight musical chairs

@AlexBruyere:  Would DC vs Bader on January's Fox show make sense?  With the winner getting Jones in New York in April

Yikes. Did you see Cormier after the Gustafsson fight? In the past 10 months DC went five rounds apiece with Jones and Gustafsson, and in between he had to take Rumble Johnson's most powerful shot. Let's let DC heal up a bit, which will give Jones' future plans more time to fall into place.

@ThisVictory: Can't Jon fight Rumble for #1 contender? And give Alex his rematch?

The only way Jones should fight anyone other than Cormier in his return fight is if Jones specifically requests a tuneup fight after being out of action for a year before going after a title shot. Otherwise, when you've accomplished everything Jones has accomplished in the cage, and you've never been legitimately defeated, and you never lost the championship in competition, I mean, if anyone ever had a case for an immediate title shot based on the merits, it's Jon Jones.

DC an all-time great?

@rtanasta: @dc_mma has to pass through @JonnyBones before to be considered one of TBE.

I disagree. But first, a tangent about my UFC 192 Aftermath, which posited that DC is one of the sport's all-time greats. The funny thing about this column, which got quite a bit of feedback, is the amount of people who seemed to think I was calling Cormier the greatest of all-time, which is 1. A whole lot different than "an all-time great," and 2. something I never said. (Of course, the majority of those who were confused by this were the same sort who respond to tweeted links without bothering to click on the story, but I digress).

I'm not going to repeat too much of what I already wrote, but, in regards to rtanasta's statement: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira lost twice to Fedor Emelianenko. Does that mean Big Nog isn't one of the greats? The hell it does. Two of the greatest fighters of an era can coexist in the same division. Cormier would obviously boost his status by beating Jones in a rematch, but if he ends up with Jones as his only blemish, that still doesn't detract from what's been one of the most exceptional runs over two weight classes we've ever seen in this sport.

Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.

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