On July 8th at UFC 213, Cody Garbrandt will be defending his bantamweight title for the first time, against former champion TJ Dillashaw. Observing from the sidelines is another former title-holder Dominick Cruz, who will likely face the winner of the fight.
The much-publicized rift between Dillashaw and Team Alpha Male has made it easy to create a narrative leading up to fight night, and the tension-filled episodes of TUF 25 are already drawing interest. But according to Cruz, Dillashaw’s beef with his former team could be mentally draining, which in turn, could be his downfall when he faces Garbrandt.
“I think stylistically, TJ has the technique and the tools to beat a guy like Cody,” Cruz said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting). “He kicks fluently, he mixes his punches and kicks. Cody has the edge in the power in the pocket, but TJ can make up the pocket work with kicks, movement, and angles, and he’s kicking a little bit more than I did against Cody, so I think that will play to his advantage.”
“But as for the mental game, I think the fact that TJ is facing that whole camp, not just Cody Garbrandt, I think that’s really wearing on TJ. I think it’s going to keep wearing on him. I think the mental is what gets him beat against Cody.”
Dillashaw left Team Alpha Male to train full-time with Duane Ludwig in Colorado. This move had drawn the ire of his ex-teammates, calling him out for being a “snake in the grass” as Conor McGregor had previously put it. But for Cruz, the whole disarray should be blamed on the team’s founder, Urijah Faber.
“It hurt his ego that his guy would go somewhere else and train with somebody that TJ thinks is better than Faber, and it hurt him that Ludwig was getting all this shine while he was at Faber’s camp, because that’s Faber’s camp. So that all being said, TJ isn’t just fighting Cody,” Cruz said. “He’s fighting that entire camp. He’s fighting Danny Castillo. He’s fighting Faber. He’s fighting Cody. He’s fighting all his old coaches. He’s fighting all his old friends and family members.”
“I think that mental strain and the loneliness that he’s feeling on that show and over this period of time is wearing on him, and I think that the mental aspects of that are what gets him beat against Cody, not the technical aspects that TJ has.”