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Urijah Faber opens up about T.J. Dillashaw departure: 'He walked away from the family'

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With the departure of UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw from Team Alpha Male becoming publicly official this week, there's been relative silence from the man who is the head of the team Dillashaw left: former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber.

On the Stud Show Radio podcast on Thursday, Faber spoke at length about Dillashaw's decision, how it happened and what it means for their future. "It's been hard for everybody," Faber acknowledges. "It's been really uncomfortable. Obviously, it's a weird situation. I never really saw it coming."

According to Faber, he had heard from an unnamed MMA journalist as well as unsolicited texts from Duane Ludwig that there was a potential issue with a team in Colorado poaching members of Team Alpha Male. Faber says he asked Dillashaw and at first didn't get any indication the champion was to be part of the program. Eventually, however, Dillashaw revealed he'd be leaving Team Alpha Male and listed some of the reasons for his departure.

As far as Faber is concerned, he doesn't find them particularly compelling.

"He's talking about how it's an amazing opportunity money-wise or whatever," Faber says. "Pfff, you gotta be kidding me, dude. You could dedicate yourself to mowing lawns for Sanchez Carlino's business and make the same amount of money if you do it full time."

In addition, Faber takes issue with the manner in which he understands Dillashaw was recruited to the team. Faber specifically targets wrestling coach Leister Bowling.

"I come to find out later there's a guy Leister or something like that. He's a recruiter or wrestling coach or something like that who has been talking to Cody [Garbrandt] and trying to get Cody to come out," Faber contends. "Basically trying to chicken hawk guys and apparently there's an article where he said something like, 'I had a heart-to-heart with T.J.,' granted, he's worked with him half of one camp - 'and I told him it's about time you do something for yourself. It's about time you do something selfish.'

"We all know T.J.," Faber continues. "He gives back to the team, but he's also about no. 1. And I'm thinking, 'Who the hell is this guy who's giving him life advice and barely knows him, that he needs to do something for himself and come train with him?'"

Faber says Dillashaw told him in addition to being paid, his new Elevation Fight Team has paid for a leased house for the UFC champion for one year. "'No, it's not like that. They leased me a house. I've got a house leased for a year,'" Faber says Dillashaw explained.

'The California Kid' most notably took issue with Dillashaw's allegedly stated hope to be able to train with Team Alpha Male when in town on visits or for intermitent periods. For Faber, that's a non-starter.

"When you have a family environment, you have people that have different little issues. T.J.'s thing has been that he has a bad temper and he hurts people in practice and does stuff. He's got a temper and doesn't hold back sometimes," Faber notes.

"I'm like, 'It doesn't make sense for you to come in and spar with our guys,'" Faber says he explained.

"And they've got Dominick Cruz who has been out his whole life, basically, because he's not made for combat. I'm 1-1 with that guy and T.J. hasn't fought him yet. I turned down the fight with him twice. Dana [White] called me and said, 'What if I said I don't want you to fight this guy? I want you to fight T.J. for the belt.'

"'Man, I just don't think I can do it,'" Faber says he told White.

"I heard T.J. say he gotten taken care of better in college than he does here, whatever that means. That's ridiculous.

"He said he wants to come back and be a part of our team, but he made a big boy decision. He walked away from the family that brought him up, the guys who were a big part of his success."

All that said, Faber isn't closing the door on any kind of relationship with Dillashaw, but says the professional avenues are no longer open.

"Friendship's a different thing. If we want to maintain a friendship that's built through actions, I'm OK with being friends with the guy. We've been really close. We've lived in the same house together when he was going through rough times. He's been a sidekick to me whenever I went through all of my training," Faber says. "We were grooming him to be a champion. If he wants to be friends, I have no problem being friends and told him that.

"It doesn't make sense, from now on, because of this tiny amount of money in the big scheme of things that he's going to go represent another team, send the message to our team that what we have isn't good enough because even in college he had a better situation than us.

"T.J. just said he wants to walk away from the team. That doesn't mean you get to come in here and help coach the guys when he's really going to be watching to see a little opening here or there."

While Faber didn't say whether he was open or willing to fight Dillashaw at this point in time or if any plan to do so was imminent, he did note the pressure from the UFC to make the fight made the possibility much likelier and that previous road blocks were no longer there.

"Zuffa's not going to be like, oh we can't fight T.J. because he used to train with us. Trust me, this train is going to get blown out of proportion," he says.

Faber also notes he spoke to Dillashaw recently, including the same day as the recording of the conversation. Faber describes the encounter as pleasant and entirely non-confrontational, but one where boundaries had to be established.

"Honestly, T.J. came over to my house. We sat down for an hour, I showed him my house, we hung out, reminisced. I told him we can't be meshing the team with what he wants to do now.

"'Dude, to be honest, brother, it's been a huge distraction. Everybody's been talking just about this,'" he recalls telling him. "This is what people have been talking about. We're trying to focus and everything is about T.J. bouncing on our team."

"I'm like, 'T.J., it's a distraction. I understand that we are your family and you feel like we're losing something, but that's not my decision, dude. That's not the decision that I made. If you'd like to actually say, 'Hey, I'm going to stay here.' Dude, open arms. You're welcome to do it.'"

"From him making a business decision to go somewhere he feels is going to be better for him, that's not the right message for the championship team I'm trying to build. That's not the right message for the little kids to see someone you built into a champion and then he walks away. That's not a right message when you're letting him come in and spar guys when he loses self control and actually injures people sometimes.

"Friendship is a different thing and that's through actions. You earn that over time and I would say that T.J. is my friend. I hope he beats the s--t out of Dominick Cruz because I don't like Dominick Cruz. I like T.J. But he made a decision to walk away and that's a big boy decision. It's gotta be cut and dry."

Faber notes he expects to see Dillashaw soon and admits it's unclear what the future holds, but is prepared for a number of different scenarios when it comes to how he and Dillashaw get along.

"Am I going to see him at Joseph [Benavidez]'s wedding this weekend? Yes! If he wants to have a barbecue and invite me on the boat, may I go out there? Maybe. Is he my best friend? I would say I have best friends that would never walk away like that. I wouldn't say it's a great friend move to do some of the things he's done recently.

"You want to build a friendship from this point on, I'm open to that, but at this point, it's you're this team, I'm this team. You know all the secrets thus far, but you don't know all the secrets of every individual on this team. I'm not going to have him in there trying to find those things out. You know he's the most competitive guy we've met.

"We just know T.J. and it's not a comfortable situation for him to be trying to act like he still wants to be a part of our team, but give all the credit [elsewhere]."

According to Faber, the bigger picture is the team he's trying to build. He argues keeping Dillashaw around would send the wrong message, potentially hurt his athletes and lets Dillashaw have his cake and eat it, too. He's open to a new relationship based solely on friendship, but that's the beginning and end of it all.

"That's not how it works for a team I'm trying to build into a tradition of championships. Our team is the best team in the world and I'm going to maintain that and I'm not going to let anybody break that up," Faber states. "If people want to leave, we never ask people to stay if they don't want to stay. Go ahead and go. If you want to be friends, let's be friends."