When TJ Dillashaw, the UFC bantamweight champion at the time, left Team Alpha Male to train with the fight camp’s former head coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig in 2015, it sparked off a rivalry that rivals all sports rivalries. Lines were drawn and sides were chosen.
Dillashaw lost the title in his first full training camp under Ludwig in a controversial split decision to Dominick Cruz at UFC Fight Night 81. Cruz defended the title against Team Alpha Male founder Urijah Faber at UFC 199, but lost it to Team Alpha Male’s Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Garbrandt and Dillashaw were named as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 25, and the rivalry hit new levels.
Cruz, who has a long history with Faber, blames the animosity between Team Alpha Male and Dillashaw on the team’s founder. The feud between Dillashaw and Garbrandt, according to Cruz, goes back to Faber’s disdain for Ludwig.
“I think what’s happening with that whole situation – being involved with TUF Talk and seeing what’s going on, talking to Ludwig, talking to Cody, talking to certain people as I move through the sport and do this analyst gig – I think this beef is really Faber’s beef. And I think Cody will pretty much listen to Faber. If Faber told him to jump off a bridge head-first, he would do it. He’s fighting Faber’s fight for him,” Cruz said during an appearance on The MMA Hour.
“I think the whole problem stems from Faber being upset because Ludwig was teaching good stuff, and it was taking some of the shine from Faber in Faber’s own camp. They had a separation and that caused problems with TJ. In my opinion, if Faber cared about TJ as much as he said that he did then he would have let him leave and do what he needed to do to better his career as a friend and a coach,” Cruz added.
In Cruz’ opinion, the epicenter of the rivalry between Garbrandt and Dillashaw can be traced back to Faber’s ego. To have the first UFC champion that Team Alpha Male produced leave to join the fight team’s former head coach’s gym was a bitter pill to swallow.
“It hurt (Faber’s) ego that his guy would go somewhere else and train with somebody that teaches things better than Faber. It hurt him that Ludwig was getting all the shine, while he was at Faber’s camp because that’s Faber’s camp.”