Much has been made about TJ Dillashaw's decision to leave Team Alpha Male (TAM) in favor of joining Team Elevation in Colorado.
It was a "big boy" decision that didn't sit too well with TAM leader Urijah Faber, who criticized his now former training partner for walking away from the family that took him in and got him to the top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight division.
During a recent stop by The MMA Hour, Dillashaw went into a bit more detail on his move over to a new gym and to discuss where he currently stands with Faber and Co.
"Obviously it's been really tough, tougher than I imagined. I thought it was going to be going over a little bit easier. But, you really find out who people are when you got to make these kinds of decisions. I thought guys on the team, everyone actually did take it that way, but I feel that Urijah took a little bit harder than I thought he would. I thought he was going to understand my position and understand where I'm at. I kind of feel he almost put me in this position. I want to talk about the position I've been put in. I've been stuck in between Urijah and Duane Ludwig for this past camp going back and forth in my training camp and these guys are bickering at each other. That makes it tough on me. He brought a coach into Team Alpha Male that for the last two years of my career I've learned to believe in and trust with my career. Then a bunch of drama happens and I'm having to choose where I train. Am I not supposed to train with a coach that I put all my faith in and helped me win a world title? You can go back to the last two years and see how my kickboxing has developed and I owe all of that to Duane. So it's a very tough situation to be put in."
According to Dillashaw, after he made his decision, Faber banned him from stepping foot inside the gym he's called home for the last six years.
"My plan was, I told Urijah, 'Look, I got a big fight coming up and I got to do what's best for me to get ready for this fight and that's to spend my whole camp in Colorado.' I split it half and half last time and it was really tough and it was hard to do. I just felt that with the team and coaches they have out there, I felt a little more comfortable spending my camp out there. He took it pretty hard and I was actually forced out of the gym. I'm not allowed to work out at Alpha Male anymore because of the decision I made. I live in Sacramento for the last six years and I've been putting in a lot of work here helping the guys. I teach kickboxing classes on Mondays and Thursdays. That's not going to fly with me when I get into camp. It's tough for somebody to not understand that I put my heart and soul into this team as much as I could and they kicked me out of the gym. I am not allowed to show my face at Alpha Male, which is kind of crazy to me. It's super tough. But I know I made the right decision and I got a big fight coming up and that's the most important thing. I made a decision to train somewhere else and I didn't think it was going to blow up and be as ridiculous as it is now. It's tough because I'm best friends with these guys."
Despite "The California Kid's" hurt feelings, Dillashaw says he still wants to continue a friendly relationship with his former mentor. And the only way to do that is to take the high road and be the bigger man and not resort to talking crap like Urijah did.
"I'm just trying to look past all of this and understand that maybe his feelings are hurt, but he kind of put me on blast when he went on that podcast. I am trying to be the bigger man and not bring out any negativity in what he's doing here in Sacramento, because it would be very easy for me to do so -- especially after he put me on blast on radio when I went in and talked the positives. So he had to go on there and talk crap, put me on blast and throw me under the bus. I don't want to be that guy, I want to keep my relationship going with him and the only way to do that is to look past it. I understand his feelings are hurt that I am going elsewhere, but I feel he should understand it just like everyone else on the team. I want to continue a relationship and be his friend, so, I am just going to be the bigger man."
As far as fighting Faber, Dillshaw says that is now more of a possibility than before:
"I didn't think I would be until Urijah started saying the stuff he did. He's the one saying that he's more than willing to fight me. I thought we were a lot closer friends than that. I put my heart and soul into this team and I thought we were a lot closer. He's obviously looking for a big fight in his career. I don't want to have to do it, but, I'll be the last statement on his career if that needs to be, but it's not the way I really want to do it. Probably most likely (I'll say yes to fight). I don't want to have to fight Urijah, it's not something I want to have to do, I love the guy. The ball is in his court, I am the champion but the ball is in his court. I'm leaving it that way and what he wants to do. I love all these guys and they are like family to me, not teammates."
While the bout is sure to be a barn burner, the Cruz vs. TAM rivalry angle to the contest will no longer be there. The tension and anger, however, will still be very much alive.
Plus, it seems another rivalry has been born.