T.J. Dillashaw knew exactly what to expect from UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt when he stepped onto the set for “The Ultimate Fighter” season 25.
When Dillashaw was offered the coaching job opposite Garbrandt he understood that part of the reason the show was coming together this way was predicated on his rivalry with the current champion along with his former training partners at Team Alpha Male.
The only problem is Dillashaw never quite understood what rattled Garbrandt’s cage so much about his exit considering they weren’t all that close and they only worked together for a brief sliver of time while they were both part of the team.
Actually, Dillashaw believes Garbrandt’s anger towards him stems directly from the influence of Team Alpha Male founder Urijah Faber, who he says was the only person who truly got upset when he exited the gym more than a year ago.
“Urijah is Cody’s daddy. Cody can’t make any decisions without Urijah,” Dillashaw said on the latest Fight Society podcast. “Urijah’s involved with everything. That’s why Urijah was mad when I left. He likes to be in control. He wants to be the top dog. I hardly even know Cody. It’s kind of comical that Cody wanted to get mad about this whole thing cause I hardly even know the guy. He was on his way in when I was on my way out.
“He was on the team when everyone was making fun of him for who he was. Now everyone’s got his back cause he’s doing great. He’s doing good for the team and getting a good name out there. But really the beef with Cody is just comical because it shouldn’t concern him at all. Just because it involves Urijah, he wants to get all riled up and puff out his feathers and act like a tough guy. I expected this from Cody. He’s a hot head and just for him to not really be able to express himself mentally but just get all worked up.”
Long before the two top ranked bantamweights were on a collision course for a fight, Dillashaw and Garbrandt actually appeared together on a past season of the long-running reality show while working with Faber when he coached opposite Conor McGregor.
At that time, McGregor called Dillashaw a “snake in the grass” for training with his head coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig after he had already split with Team Alpha Male to open his own facility in Colorado.
In the lead-up to the new season of the show, Garbrandt quickly returned to that jab from McGregor while taking shots at Dillashaw for her perceived disloyalty in leaving the Sacramento-based gym to work with a new team instead. Dillashaw saw it coming so instead of allowing Garbrandt to hammer that nail all season long, he embraced the comment and even showed off a new logo emblazoned with a cobra ready to strike while dubbing his crew “Team Killashaw.”
“It’s kind of like all they really have. They’ve been using one thing. It’s like “8 Mile,” if you say what they’re going to do first then they just look like idiots because that’s all they really have,” Dillashaw said about embracing the comment rather than revolting against it. “They’re not very original.
“They’ve got Conor’s [expletive] in their mouth talking about what he’s talking about and they can’t really come up with their own [expletive]. They don’t really have anything.”
Whether it was a made up beef with Garbrandt or stealing McGregor’s material to take jabs at him, Dillashaw knew the playbook from Team Alpha Male before the season even began and that allowed him to get ready for everything that would be thrown at him.
Ultimately, Dillashaw’s opinion of Garbrandt didn’t really change from the start of the season until the end. If anything, Dillashaw says Garbrandt only reaffirmed what he already knew about him going into the show.
“It’s not so much learn but just reinstated what I’ve known about the guy that he’s a complete [expletive] idiot,” Dillashaw said. “He’s not very smart and he’s hot headed. That’s it. There’s not much more behind that other than getting your haircut, making sure your eyebrows are lined up and being a hot head.