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For Urijah Faber and TJ Dillashaw, the line is blurred between mentor and tormentor

In terms of miniature drama, the thing going on with TJ Dillashaw, Team Alpha Male, the Elevation Fight Team, Urijah Faber, California’s capital city of Sacramento and the town’s best-known peanut butter salesman Duane "Bang" Ludwig is really pretty colorful under a microscope.

TJ Dillashaw was a wide-eyed prospect who found his legs in Faber’s gym. Six years into the discovery, those same legs walked out. He’s headed to Colorado for his fight-related doings. Even though the split felt like a year in the making (what with the ripening feud going on between Dillashaw’s go-to coach Ludwig and his teammate Faber), to hear fans tell it this has become an off-Broadway production of "Subterfuge."

And because Dillashaw’s a champion in the sport of the mixed techniques, there’s no shortage of overcast feelings in the matter from just about everyone involved. TAM fighter Cody Garbrandt, for example, is pissed off — just peep his Twitter feed. He’s not alone.

Dillashaw himself is emotional, because throughout his career thus far he has honed his skills in a gym of equal-sized radicals who had his back. It’s hard for a champion to walk away from those who championed him. It was Faber, after all, who pleaded for Dillashaw to get a crack at Renan Barao’s bantamweight belt just moments after he lost to Barao in his own attempt to take it at UFC 169.

Dillashaw, for his part, made the most of it when that wish was granted by the UFC.

Of course, Faber — who never raises an octave above surfer cool — is peeved to see Dillashaw go, too. Dillashaw got the monkey off the team’s back by becoming the first guy to bring home a UFC belt. It’s a big deal to see the gold plates in the scaffolding stripped away so easily, so voluntarily, so unnecessarily.

On a Team Alpha Male Radio broadcast, "The California Kid" opened up about the departure of the team’s breakthrough champion. It wasn’t Scorched Earth, exactly, as Faber sat barefooted audibly chewing his finger food — it was more like a taco Tuesday discussion about some dude who walked away from what was obviously a good thing.

What he was hitting on was interesting, strange, forbidden, telling, skewed, revelatory…a bunch of stuff. And as usual, the entirety of Faber’s mood range fell between "for real, Bruh?" and innocent bemusement when doling out the dirt.

Elevation’s Leister Bowling, for instance, was referred to as a "chicken hawk" for attempting to poach TAM fighters. (The wrong fighters, it might be mentioned; Faber couldn’t understand why Leister wasn’t trying to pilfer prospects like Joseph Morales, or especially "Bulldog" [Andrew Coyne]…future studs that will own the future and the future’s future!).

Ludwig was presented again, same as before — a skinflint accustomed to hissy fits.

Faber also said that the kind of money Dillashaw would get from Elevation Fight Team "to train" was akin to money he could make mowing lawns, should the champ’s thumb turn as green as the reflection in his eyes.

Opportunity his ass! Faber was only getting started.

Perhaps the sourest grapes that he could muster for Dillashaw came down to the young champion’s unchecked temper. Faber said Dillashaw would hurt guys in training by taking it up a notch out of anger. Tantrumy stuff, like what you might expect to see from a Tommy Toe Hold outtake. Though Faber said that he and Dillashaw could remain friends —he wouldn’t necessarily say no to a day going out on the boat to barbecue, if he’s keeping it real — this was something he didn’t want to let go.

And the idea of fighting Dillashaw down the line was already alive and ransacking his imagination. The hard lines that wouldn’t be crossed have now become just silly little scriggles in the sand.

You knew it was coming. Faber, the mentor, warming up in the bullpen to face Dillashaw, the man who achieved what Faber hasn’t been able to the UFC — the man who finished all the things he started. For Faber, Dillashaw not only spurned the team (which is fine, bro! Really. It’s fine, that’s a "big boy decision!") but he now he becomes the very torment of his shortcomings. Mentor versus tormentor.

Well, down the line that is. Dillashaw defends his title against Dominick Cruz in January, and Faber has a date with Frankie Saenz at UFC 194.

Faber said that he’d already turned down the Dillashaw fight twice, and he even wondered openly if the UFC had got in Conor McGregor’s ear to rouse the rabble on a future fight between him and Dillashaw on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter. When things like this go down, the "who’s all in on it" suspicions get a little out of control. Even if in this case, it’s totally believable that the UFC and Conor McGregor were in such cahoots.

Anyway, Faber wasn’t calling Dillashaw a snake in the grass, like McGregor. He was just sort of airing things out in that red-tinted opium den that is Stud Show Radio. He was giving little insights to what goes on in the fight game, and questioning the reasoning of the man he helped become a champion. The man who is currently a champion in his weight class. The man whom left his gym, for better or for worse, to perpetuate his brand elsewhere.

"I’m done being sad about it," Faber said, revealing that he had once been sad about it. "I mean, it is what it is, dude."

What it is is the prelude to a fight.

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