TJ Dillashaw is no stranger to the barbs of Team Alpha Male members, so you'll have to excuse him if he no longer seems all that bothered by the vast majority of smack directed his way by Cody Garbrandt. The two coached an especially contentious season of The Ultimate Fighter and ramped up the drama before a back injury to Garbrandt delayed their fight from UFC 213 to UFC 217 on November 4th. Dillashaw sounds like he’s used the extra time to get back to a zen place.
There’s still regular accusations coming from his opponent’s camp. The last thing Garbrandt and his team leveled at Dillashaw was a diss about TJ being an athlete as opposed to a true fighter. But instead of it getting under his skin, TJ seems pleased with the descriptor.
"I find that hilarious because it's actually more of a compliment, I'd rather be an athlete than a fighter," he told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. "An athlete's going to go out there and figure out ways to win, see the holes in the game. I do treat myself more as an athlete than I do a fighter, as a fighter you're a street thug. Going out there trying to knock someone out, being really aggressive. I'm going to go out there as an athlete just as he said, and pick him apart using that."
"Don't get me wrong, he's very athletic. He's quick, he's got some great athletic attributes. I think yeah maybe his downfall is that he's more of a fighter. He could be more of an athlete, I just don't know if he's smart enough to be that way."
And while Dillashaw definitely isn't looking past Garbrandt, he is still more than open to the idea of facing flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson.
"I would love that," Dillashaw said. "I wanted it when it should have happened. He's the pound for pound kingpin, he's the guy that's top of the world right now and I think he's a winnable fight. I think that I could have stopped him from breaking the record and it could have been something great, a big money fight for himself. And yeah, that's something I'd love to do, especially knowing that I can make the weight, knowing that 125 is a very doable thing."
"So that's definitely something that would be in my crosshairs but like you said, there's no way I'm overlooking Cody. It's one step at a time, and getting my original belt back."