It’s no secret that Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber aren’t the best of friends.
The two men have a lengthy history that predates their Ultimate Fighting Championship tenures: Faber submitted Cruz with a guillotine choke in the opening round of their first meeting at WEC 26 in 2007, while Cruz got revenge by outpointing “The California Kid” in a 135-pound title fight at UFC 132 some four years later.
Through it all, Cruz and Faber have seemingly relished each opportunity to trade barbs with the other, and as long as both remain relevant in the UFC, the possibility for a rubber match somewhere down the road remains very much in play.
That’s why when Faber approached Cruz to discuss his recent beef with former Team Alpha Male member T.J. Dillashaw, the ex-bantamweight champ was skeptical of his rival’s motives.
“Faber came up to me recently when I was out there to commentate on the Cowboy-RDA fight [at UFC on Fox 17] and he was talking to me about T.J. and just that they’re not that close and that T.J. hasn’t been beating him up for the past four years like T.J.’s been saying,” Cruz said during a recent conference call. “[Faber said] all that’s fake and none of it’s true, that they’re not cool and they’re not friends. I don’t know, it’s just weird. Those guys all have a weird dynamic. You never know which sides they’re playing because they’re always trying to make money and build fights for the future.
“They could be best friends behind the scenes and just pretending to beef right now or they could be really beefing,” Cruz continued. “I know Faber’s pretty much the type of guy who wants you to do good, but he never wants you to do better than him. Right now T.J.’s doing a little better than him so right now there’s a little jealousy in Faber’s eyes and that’s why all this stuff is going down the way it is.”
Dillashaw departed the Sacramento, Calif.-based camp for Elevation Fight Team in Denver last year. The split quickly turned ugly, as Faber barred the reigning 135-pound king from returning to train at Team Alpha Male. Dillashaw, who will defend his belt against Cruz in the UFC Fight Night Boston headliner on Sunday, denies that the feud is fabricated.
“I want to look back on my career and know that I made the right choices and I portrayed myself the way I wanted to be portrayed -- and I didn’t look like a jackass while doing it,” Dillashaw said. “With me and Faber that actually surprised me the way he’s been acting as well because I’m cool with all the guys. I really think it’s just a way for him to push for a title fight, to really make some money. I’ve done nothing but show respect. I don’t go out there and talk crap about Urijah when there’s plenty to talk about. I’m just gonna continue to be a humble guy and appreciate what he did for me when I got into this sport.
“It’s just a little ridiculous that I’m getting crap for changing camp when it happens all the time. When guys are trying to better their selves by going to a new team or new coach, it happens every day in this sport and all of a sudden it’s a big deal. It’s a little ridiculous and you’ve just got to laugh it off.”
While Dillashaw has lauded the attention he receives at Elevation, which features a multi-person staff that includes ex-Alpha Male striking coach Duane Ludwig, Cruz doesn’t expect much to change from when “The Ultimate Fighter 14” alum was training in California.
“You can dress up a turd, but it still stinks -- and that’s T.J. Dillashaw,” Cruz said. “He’s still an Alpha Male; he’s still got those guys training with him. He’s still one of them. He’s still a jock; he’s still a meathead; he’s still not that bright and he still uses a lot of the fundamentals that those guys use. That’s what built him up in the sport. He’s got new techniques with Ludwig. Ludwig’s helped him move along and train some techniques with his kickboxing. It’s still an Alpha Male guy in my eyes. That’s just Faber cutting him off to try and make money. Faber is always trying to get the big money fights.”