If T.J. Dillashaw is having second thoughts about his well-publicized decision to leave Team Alpha Male, he’s doing his best to hide it.
The former UFC bantamweight champion, after all, is in the co-main event of UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden in a bout against current titleholder and former TAM teammate Cody Garbrandt. That’s not exactly the sign of a career in decline.
“It all led up to this big fight, to the real main event of this card,” Dillashaw said on a Wednesday media call. ”Seventy percent of the fans want to see this fight more than any other on the card, so, it all happened for a reason, it’s building our names.”
Garbrandt, though, isn’t having it.
“He regrets it every day of his life,” Garbrandt interjected. “But his ego won’t let him admit that. Let’s be honest, T.J.”
Garbrandt goes into the Nov. 4 bout believing his team has written the book on how to beat Dillashaw. Garbrandt pointed out that just as Team Alpha Male’s collective experience fighting former champion Dominick Cruz helped Garbrandt put together a game plan to defeat Cruz to win the title at UFC 207, likewise, the team has similar experience that will help solve the Dillashaw puzzle.
“All my teammates, they built T.J. up to where he’s at,” Garbrandt said. “They know T.J. like the back of his hand. They got me ready for Dominick Cruz, they went countless hours, 27 rounds with Dominick Cruz, so they knew him, they taught T.J. everything. I had Justin Buchholz in this camp the whole camp the last year preparing for T.J., getting ready for this guy, and Justin taught him how to throw a punch, so I’m extremely confident when I get in there.”
Dillashaw’s career path has taken him from Sacramento to Colorado and now on to Southern California, where he’s trying to start his own gym, over the past couple years. He admits this wasn’t how he had drawn up his plans, but he’s not about to say he could take it back.
“It’s definitely not how I [foresaw] it going down,” Dillashaw said. “But, it all worked out for the reasons that it did and I’m going to make the most of it.”