T.J. Dillashaw isn't the champion in the UFC bantamweight division anymore, but he's not far from regaining what he once had either. He'll face Raphael Assuncao at UFC 200 in what could be a No. 1 contender's bout for Dominick Cruz's title. Dillashaw is aware of the stakes and aware of what's happening around him in the division. That's evidenced by his recent comments Monday on The MMA Hour regarding his former training partners as well as Cruz himself.
"It was kinda how I expected it to go down," Dillashaw said of the UFC 199 bantamweight title bout between former teammate Urijah Faber and Cruz. "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."
Faber is famous in MMA for the number of times he's been able to claim title shots - four times in the UFC alone - albeit without success in claiming any inside the Octagon. Still, he's marketable and still near the top of the division. For Dillashaw, however, the idea of him claiming the title seems impossible.
"Yeah, I definitely don't think he's going to get the belt," he asserted. "He might get another shot. Who knows? I don't really know. He's going to have to work his way back up, which I think is going to be really hard in this division. You've got a lot of tough kids in the weight class.
"I think it's going to be tough to get back up there," he continued. "He's towards the end of his career. He's already done the right things in looking to what he should do next. He's already set himself up pretty. He's a smart guy when it comes to business."
That's roughly the sum total of nice comments Dillashaw has for Faber at this point. For starters - and the list of grievances is surely long - Dillashaw claimed Faber's been surfing off of his name after winning the title.
"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."
Then it goes a little deeper. During the run up to UFC 199 and in the course of promoting that fight, Faber proclaimed he'd "smoke" Dillashaw if they ever fought. Worse, he suggested Dillashaw could've been using performance-enhancing drugs during his career and had recently been forced to stop. "He looks like a prepubescent little teenager right now because USADA came in," Faber said in April.
That left Dillashaw in the bizarre position of not only rooting against Cruz, but Faber as well.
"It's just crazy for me to say that because I didn't think there'd be any time in my life ever that'd I'd be not only rooting against Faber - especially against Cruz - but he just crossed the line, man. He stepped the boundaries with the stuff he said, the kind of person he became. Like I said, it was childish and it actually kinda hurt my feelings, man. I really don't feel like I've done anything to deserve it, just because I'm training elsewhere and following my career and doing what I think is best for myself. It's kinda crazy for him to badmouth me.
"Also for him to come out with some outlandish s--t to say to me and Cruz were on PEDs," he continued. "That's bad mouthing my career. That's putting a bad taste in people's mouth about my name. That kinda crossed the line with me."
Whether one is interested in this dispute or not, it's unlikely to stop. The pair could fight at some point in the near future. And in any case, Dillashaw said he hasn't reached out to Faber to seek even a cease fire, much less a truce. Their dispute is bound to continue.
"At this point, no," Dillashaw said regarding whether he's tried to talk to Faber privately. "Everyone's got their own story. He probably believes something else, but I don't feel like it's my fault to apologize.
"I'm hoping he feels he's done the wrong, but who knows?"