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T.J. Dillashaw has ‘a lot of mixed emotions’ about former friend, mentor Urijah Faber retiring

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T.J. Dillashaw Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Just a little over a year ago, the feud between Team Alpha Male founder Urijah Faber and Duane Ludwig boiled over in a major way, leading to a very public and nasty falling out between Faber and Ludwig’s star pupil, ex-UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw.

Much has been said since then between the two sides, and Dillashaw still remains estranged from his former friend and mentor. Yet with Faber set to retire a week before Dillashaw’s next fight at UFC 207, Dillashaw knows he will inevitably be asked about the man who first introduced him to mixed martial arts, and despite everything that has gone on over the past year, he is conflicted about how it feels to see the end of Faber’s run.

“I have a lot of mixed emotions,” Dillashaw admitted Monday on The MMA Hour. “It’s super unfortunate the way this has all gone down, and I feel like really immature on his part, the way that he’s tried to bash me. I thought at first it was just for him to get a title shot, and I really hope one day that he’ll be able to come to me and say that that’s what he was doing.

“It’s just kind of crazy how much time I put in at that gym and how much I helped him train, and how much he helped me. He was making money off me. Obviously he gives everyone a shot, and if you start doing good, then he’s going to make money off you, so it’s in his own best interest. But I was a friend of the guy. I put in a lot of hours there at that gym. I grew as a person there, and it’s kind of crazy how immature it was, that he wanted to bash me and kick me out of the gym because I wanted to train with someone that he didn’t get along with.

“That’s so crazy and it’s such high school drama. But what it comes down to, when it’s all done and said, we do have a past, we do have a history, and with him retiring, he’s done wonders for this sport as well. You hope he goes out on a good note.”

Dillashaw came up in the fight game under the tutelage of Faber within the halls of Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male, but it wasn’t until the arrival of Ludwig that Dillashaw truly evolved into one of the best bantamweight fighters in the world. Dillashaw eventually capture the squad’s first UFC championship when he trounced Renan Barao with a stunning, title-winning performance in 2014, but things quickly went south from there, as infighting between Ludwig and Faber led to Ludwig leaving Team Alpha Male that same year, and Dillashaw soon followed.

Since then, animosity has seemingly lingered on both sides about how the relationship fell apart. But with Faber electing to end a storied career with one final hometown fight in Sacramento on Dec. 17 at UFC on FOX 22 against Brad Pickett, Dillashaw finds himself wishing his old coach well for what should likely be a very memorable sendoff.

“Even though the guy has really pissed me off, and I’ve had, and still do, a lot of unpleasant hate for the guy, for the way he acted, … (when it’s) all done and said, I don’t wish anything bad on the guy,” Dillashaw said.

“I do believe it’s time for him to retire. He’s actually, I feel like, declined in his skills rather than getting better, and you need people around you telling you, ‘alright man, it’s time. You’ve done a good job, it’s time for you to hang it up. You’ve got some fighters coming into the gym, that are some new guys, who are kind of beating up on you. It’s time to call it quits.’ So hopefully he comes out and looks good and he does it in Sacramento. He always is amped up when he fights there. He’s, by far, a town favorite. He’s a fan favorite. So hopefully he can make a good showing.”