T.J. Dillashaw’s highly-publicized exit from Team Alpha Male last year was once of the uglier fighter-camp splits in recent memory, as Urijah Faber has since declared his friendship with the bantamweight champion ”off the table.”
Despite the harsh feelings that Dillashaw’s move triggered, training couldn’t be better for the fighter in his new home at Elevation Fight Team in Denver. While Dillashaw traveled to Colorado primarily to be near striking coach Duane Ludwig, he has discovered numerous other benefits since his arrival. Dillasahw has been at Elevation exclusively in preparation for his title defense against Dominick Cruz at UFC Fight Night Boston on Jan. 17.
“It’s going good. The altitude’s been awesome, just realizing how great of shape I’m gonna be in,” Dillashaw said during a conference call on Friday. “Going home back to California for Christmas and realizing the big difference it’s gonna make for me is awesome.
“I’ve never had this many coaches’ eyes on me before. I’ve always had Duane coaching me, and now I have four other coaches that are watching over practice.....I’ve never had this much attention and it’s nice to be treated the way I am out here.”
Along with Ludwig, Dillashaw also receives guidance from new coaches Eliot Marshall, Leister Bowling, Christian Allen and Loren Landow. Many of his Team Alpha Male training partners have also made the journey to Colorado to work with him.
“I’ve actually got a lot of my teammates training out here with me. Joseph Benavidez is with me right now. Lance Palmer has been coming out,” Dillashaw said. “I’m still training with a lot of the guys. It’s just not Ultimate Fitness; Urijah put a stop to that.”
In a perfect world, Dillashaw, who still has a house in California, would have been able to spend time at both Elevation and Team Alpha Male, but Faber banned him from returning to the Sacramento-based gym in any fashion.
“My plan was to do most of my camp in Colorado and be back in Sacramento here and there and be able to cross train. I feel like I’ve built good relationships with guys out there and teammates,” Dillashaw said. “I’ve done my part to be a good team player. My plan was to go back and forth, but that’s not the case anymore. I have to be full time out here. I’ve got family and California is home too; I’ll always be back and forth.”
No longer having access to Team Alpha Male doesn’t seem to have adversely affected Dillashaw at all. With a stable of coaches watching him in practice every day, Dillashaw believes he will be that much more prepared to defeat Cruz next weekend.
“You’re always kind of adding every camp. You’re adding for a certain opponent or just in general, and you just continue to sharpen the tools you already have,” he said. “I added a lot because I’ve got a lot of new coaches. I have four new coaches’ eyes on me. I’ve learned some new wrestling techniques, some new grappling stuff. Obviously I’ve continued to work with Duane and [worked to ]continue our success.”
It is that relationship, ultimately, that Dillashaw has counted on since even before he upset Renan Barao at UFC 173 to become bantamweight champion.
“I feel he has given me a lot. The guy that believes in me and works harder for me than anybody ever has in my entire life,” Dillashaw said. “Of course I’m going to follow that, with that kind of connection. All of the great fighters you see today all have a super close connection with their coaches.”