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Dillashaw admits being ‘overly aggressive’ in sparring, denies injuring ex-teammate

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TJ Dillashaw responds to allegations that he pulled some dirty tactics in training that led to the concussion of Team Alpha Male fighter Chris Holdsworth.

During an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in early September, Urijah Faber and Cody Garbrandt spoke about how T.J. Dillashaw supposedly roughed up some of their training partners during sparring. Garbrandt, in particular, claimed that Dillashaw was responsible for the concussion that their teammate Chris Holdsworth recently suffered.

“It was him and T.J. going. I remember distinctively, Duane [Ludwig, former TAM striking coach and current Dillashaw coach] used to come up to Chris and be like ‘Hey, Grasshopper, T.J.’s fighting, can you take it easy on him?’ Chris is a killer, dude. Chris is f—ing him up. Everybody [else too]. Chris is an animal. And I guess Chris choked him out and T.J. got up and f—ing kneed him in the back of the head when he was down.”

Dillashaw aired his side of the story on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, where he denied his former teammates’ accusations.

“They said I got submitted by Chris Holdsworth, and then I kneed him in the back of the head while he was grounded and after the round, whatever it may be,” Dillashaw told Ariel Helwani (via MMA Fighting). “So you’re telling me I’m kneeing people in the back of the head in between rounds and ruining their careers, but you want me to stay on your team? You’re not going to kick me off the team, you led the fight for me to stay on the team and you’re angry that I left.”

“How does that make any sense whatsoever? If I’m a loose cannon like that, how would that make any sense whatsoever, how would you be angry at me? if that was the case, if I was doing those kind of things, I should be kicked off the team. Instantly. There’s no way that would be something that is acceptable.”

What Dillashaw admitted to, however, was that there were moments when he went a little overboard during training sessions, but it was only because he was also matched up against tough, aggressive sparring partners.

“Have I been overly aggressive in some sparring sessions? Yes, I have,” Dillashaw acknowledged. “There’s things, there’s punches and things I’ve thrown that’s been too aggressive and I’ve gotten to where I’ve had to tell myself, yeah, I shouldn’t have done that, kind of thing. But I’ve never blatantly ever deliberately kneed someone in the back of the head and tried to end their career. I’ve gotten too aggressive in sparring, which we all have.”

“I got thrown into the lion’s den when I got to Alpha Male. My first sparring session was with Joe Benavidez, Chad Mendes and those guys, just bleeding from my face, its not like they took it easy on me. It was one of those things where we sparred 3-4 days a week, and we got thrown in there and that’s what made me as tough as I am.”

Dillashaw will be looking to reclaim the UFC bantamweight title when he co-headlines UFC 217 against Garbrandt on November 4th in New York City.