At this point it feels like TJ Dillashaw and Urijah Faber have been feuding for longer than they were ever cohorts. Dillashaw joined Team Alpha Male in 2009, just a few months after graduating college as a three-time D1 NCAA tournament qualifier. His short amateur career, first pro fights, Ultimate Fighter season, and run to his first UFC championship all came working out of Faber’s MMA super-camp in Sacramento, CA.
When Dillashaw and coach Duane Ludwig left with the belt in 2015, a years long war of words ensued. Culminating in a pair of title fights between Dillashaw and next-gen Alpha Male prodigy Cody Garbrandt. Dillashaw walked away with the KO victory in both those bouts. And when he got busted by USADA back in 2019, his former teammates were quick to start airing the dirty laundry between them.
With Dillashaw once again returning to action this past weekend, with a hard fought victory over top contender Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 32, Faber spoke to Submission Radio about his former teammate’s success. And while the ‘California Kid’ felt that Sandhagen should have been given the win in that fight, he also revealed that the UFC actually approached him with the idea of booking these now long-time rivals against one another.
“The only reason I would do a fight with T.J. in particular, would be because they would pay me more for that one,” Faber admitted, saying that the obvious drama surrounding the bout is a major disincentive to take it. “And if they don’t, I wouldn’t do it. And he’s probably the same way. He doesn’t want to fight me. He’s been working hard to regain his [image], try to keep his nose clean and try to tell his side of the story or whatever the deal is of his cheating scenarios. And he doesn’t need the grave digger bringing up the fucking bones of the last 10 years of him being a creep and a POS. So, I don’t think it’s enticing for him on that front. And for me, I would do it because there would be a bounty on his head, and probably vice versa.”
As to what exactly those old bones are? Faber says he was never actually “privy to anything” when it came to TJ’s potential past PED use at the time. But, added that there are plenty of others that likely have stories to tell.
“He knows. His family knows. Everybody knows what he was doing,” Faber said of allegations that Dillashaw had been using PEDs long before his USADA suspension. “It’s not my business to put anything out there. Other people have gone out and said stuff about whether he was or wasn’t. I know that he came to my team as a lifetime athlete who wrestled since he was a little kid and wrestled in college and worked out really, really hard and couldn’t bust 143 pounds, and he was complaining about it.”
While Faber may not be willing to give any more precise details on what Dillashaw did or didn’t do in the past, while working with him at Team Alpha Male, he did give some extra insight into what he feels is Dillashaw’s mentality around PED use. Faber suggested that, rather than PEDs being some kind of mental crutch for Dillashaw, they served more as an example of the extremity of his competitive nature.
“He looked like the same guy,” Faber admitted, speaking of Dillashaw’s successful return to the cage after a two year suspension. “I mean, look, in the aftermath of having the guy on the team and then leaving the team and me always being dark on everything, I know a lot more stuff than most people do about the whole situation. But the one thing I can say is, the reason he’s cheating is because he’s a competitor. Like, not a fair competitor. He’s a cheap-shot guy. He’s a, you know, whatever it is. But the guy’s whole intent and focus is to win.
“And if someone’s a cheater because they don’t believe in themselves, that’s one thing,” Faber continued. “But if somebody does an actual assessment of what they need to gain. Whether it be conditioning or strength or whatnot, and then cheat because of that, there’s a big difference. One is a mental weakness, and the other one is being a crafty cheat. You know, to gain financial and fame and whatever else. And he was able to do that. And the layoff, I think he used the time well and came back with, the same guy he always has. As an older guy who put on some size and whatever else he’s been doing throughout the years. He’s a bigger than he was when he started in the sport, and I think it plays to his favor. And he’s always a competitor. I mean, that’s a legit champion mentality guy when it comes to competing.”
Following his victory over Sandhagen, Dillashaw called for another shot at the bantamweight title, against the winner of Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. Sterling won the belt via DQ back at UFC 259 in March. While the team Serra-Longo fighter has been recuperating from neck surgery, the UFC plans to hold a rematch of their title fight on October 30th, at UFC 267. Following that bout, it may just be that Dillashaw will once again find himself in title contention.