With each passing week, the strain in the previously solid relationship between Team Alpha Male stars T.J. Dillashaw and Urijah Faber has gotten worse.
A messy feud, which saw the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight titleholder Dillashaw grow distant and eventually get paid to train with friend and striking coach Duane Ludwig out in Denver, Colorado full-time, only after "Bang" had a few things to say about "The California Kid," has reached new levels of drama after the latter revealed on the Stud Show Radio podcast (via MMAFighting) that a member of the Elevation Fight Team coaching staff was "recruiting."
"I come to find out later there's a guy Leister or something like that. He's a recruiter or wrestling coach or something like that who has been talking to Cody [Garbrandt] and trying to get Cody to come out," Faber said. "Basically trying to chicken hawk guys and apparently there's an article where he said something like, 'I had a heart-to-heart with T.J.,' granted, he's worked with him half of one camp - 'and I told him it's about time you do something for yourself. It's about time you do something selfish.'"
In addition to his paid training, the reigning 135-pound kingpin will be housed for free in "Mile High City," according to what the former told Faber. These hefty benefits prompted Dillashaw to proclaim he was was "taken care of better in college."
For what it's worth, Elevation's wrestling coach Leister Bowling has said he's far from a recruiter and only told Dillashaw to "do what's best for you."
"You need to pick one [camp], because as a world champion splitting your time -- 50-50, 60-40, whatever -- going from California to Denver for eight weeks, you're not getting the focus you need as the world champ. If your home base is in Sacramento and having all those monsters to train with every day is what you need to stay at the top, then don't ever come back to Colorado," Bowling told Dillashaw. "If I'm in your shoes, I would pick one and do it. I said I would hate to see you not come back to Colorado, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes. And if you feel like training with Duane and being out here on probably a slightly smaller team with probably a little more focus, if you feel that's what you need, then do that."
"Killashaw," who has been apart of Team Alpha Male for six years, claimed gold over previous champion Renan Barao at UFC 173 in May 2014 and has made two successful title defenses to date over Joe Soto and "The Baron" once more.
After his friend and coach Ludwig split with the famed west coast camp in the same month, the 29-year-old split time preparing for his next two title defenses in California and Colorado, even saying he "runs more of the practices" at Team Alpha Male than Faber does.
But now it appears Faber might have closed the door on this chapter in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career for himself ... not to say that he's not open to being friends with Dillashaw. In fact, they will both be in attendance at former flyweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez's wedding this weekend.
"He said he wants to come back and be a part of our team, but he made a big boy decision. He walked away from the family that brought him up, the guys who were a big part of his success," Faber said. "We were grooming him to be a champion. If he wants to be friends, I have no problem being friends and told him that. Honestly, T.J. came over to my house. We sat down for an hour, I showed him my house, we hung out, reminisced. I told him we can't be meshing the team with what he wants to do now.
From him making a business decision to go somewhere he feels is going to be better for him, that's not the right message for the championship team I'm trying to build."
Faber, who's 36 and in the latter stages of his MMA career, is the leader of a Team Alpha Male camp, which boasts title contenders like Benavidez and Chad Mendes in multiple weight classes. They have been one of the most respected and tight-knit fight camps for quite some time.
The former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) featherweight champion has appeared as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) twice.
Dillashaw, who helped out on the latest season with Faber (recaps here) and is also a TUF alum himself, will be tangling with former 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz in the main event of UFC Fight Night 81 on Jan. 17, 2016 in Boston.
With all that's transpired in recent months, Faber only wishes Dillashaw well, and even leaves open the possibility of colliding with his former protege inside the Octagon -- something previously thought to only be possible with boatloads of cash.
"Friendship is a different thing and that's through actions. You earn that over time and I would say that T.J. is my friend. I hope he beats the s--t out of Dominick Cruz because I don't like Dominick Cruz," Faber proclaimed, adding. "I turned down the fight with him twice. Dana [White] called me and said, 'What if I said I don't want you to fight this guy? I want you to fight T.J. for the belt.' Zuffa's not going to be like, oh we can't fight T.J. because he used to train with us. Trust me, this train is going to get blown out of proportion."