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T.J. Dillashaw, Cody Garbrandt verbally spar over ‘classless’ claim

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LOS ANGELES -- For awhile there, it seemed like the trash talk was going to subside between UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and former titleholder Cody Garbrandt.

The beef between the two former teammates at Team Alpha Male was featured on a season of The Ultimate Fighter and all the way up to their first fight at UFC 217.

So at first, in the leadup to Saturday night’s UFC 227 main event rematch, the animosity seemed played out and the talk was mostly focused on the bout itself.

But as the hours draw close to their second clash, the tension level has once again risen, and old animosities are beginning to flare anew.

Garbrandt got the ball rolling at Wednesday’s open workouts at LA Live by calling his opponent “classless.” Garbrandt remains ticked off by Dillashaw’s actions after knocking Garbrandt out at UFC 217, where he got in his vanquished foe’s face and screamed and then taunted his cornermen.

“He’s classless, that’s T.J., he’s always been like that,” said Garbrandt, who skipped his workout and instead held a question-and-answer session with fans. “That’s who he is. It was classless. Win or lose, when I outclassed Dominick Cruz, I gave him my respect. T.J.’s up in my face and flexing on my team, acting like a little as*hole. I remember every single thing, that’s what motivated me this whole entire camp, T.J. getting in my face after that fight.”

DIllashaw, for his part, laughed when apprised of Garbrandt’s statements.

“Did you guys hear me on the mic after the fight?” Dillashaw asked. “I had nothing but compliments for the guy. If anyone is classless, it went more in my direction.”

Garbrandt also dismissed the notion that he didn’t deserve an immediate rematch after losing, saying that his victory over Dominick Cruz, who defeated Dillashaw to end Dillashaw’s first title reign in 2016, is enough to justify getting right back to the front of the line.

“I outclassed one of the best bantamweight champions in the world [Cruz], who outclassed him,” Garbrandt said. “if you watch that fight with TJ and Dominick, TJ was swinging at air, got outclassed, he said it was a close fight. And you know why? He feels entitled. He had a silver spoon in his mouth his whole life, you know what I mean? He doesn’t know anything about adversity, it’s always b*tch and cry. It takes two years to get back to the top, he said. OK, but you’re not knocking people out. I was knocking people out in the first round. That’s why I got the title shot over him.”

Dillashaw, again, scoffed at Garbrandt’s words. While admitting he doesn’t have the hardscrabble, from-the-streets story of so many successful fighters, he believes he’s had to earn everything he’s accomplished.

“I wouldn’t say I grew up with a silver spoon,” Dillashaw said. “Yeah, I was very fortunate. I have a great family. I was raised the right way, my parents did a great job, I owe them everything. Without them, I’m not the man I am today. I don’t have maybe the typical fighter story of having to grow up rough. I grew up great. I had to work my ass off to get anything I wanted. My first vehicle I had to buy it myself and work to get it. My dad was really hard on me.”

All of this flies in the face of the cordial greeting the duo gave one another at the UFC’s 25th anniversary press conference in Brooklyn in April, which seemed to indicate the heat was off between the two. The way Dillashaw sees it, given that Garbrandt lost last time, his opponent is flailing around trying to find a new way to get in his head.

“He’s trying to be a nice guy, he’s trying to flip the script,” Dillasahw said. “He was a jerk, a bully, and now I have so much ammo that he wants to smooth it over, be the nice guy now. It’s a little bit of a different situation. He can’t be a prick now.”