When T.J. Dillashaw stepped into the cage for his Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Finale fight against John Dodson, he came in as the prohibitive favorite and one of the top prospects to fight on the reality show.
114 seconds later Dillashaw’s dream of being The Ultimate Fighter champion were gone.
John Dodson defeated Dillashaw that night and it was a painful lesson on just how quickly things happen in the UFC. The former college wrestler admits that it was like a flash and it was over, but he gained valuable experience that will help him going forward.
“Just learning that anything can happen, and it happens fast,” Dillashaw told MMAWeekly Radio. “I went into that fight, knew that I had it, did what I needed to be prepared for it, and knew that I was going to get the win. That’s the way you’ve got to think when you go in there. Things don’t really work out for you all the time and you’ve got to hit the drawing boards again.”
Criticisms were launched at Dillashaw after the fight for not immediately shooting in and trying to take Dodson to the ground instead of staying on the outside and trading punches with the veteran fighter. While he’s been hesitant to even talk about it, Dillashaw was dealing with a shoulder injury leading into the fight with Dodson, but says it had nothing to do with why he wasn’t trying for a takedown.
Truth be told, he just didn’t have time to implement any kind of game plan before the fight was already over. Dillashaw is also quick to point out that he was never even thinking about pulling out of the fight due to injury. That simply wasn’t an option.
“I still feel like I definitely could have won the fight. I feel like I’m the better fighter in any aspect of MMA than John Dodson. I’m not going to be the one backing out of a fight, especially The Ultimate Fighter Finale,” said Dillashaw.
“You either go in there and try your hardest and lose, or lose by forfeit. They both sound bad in my book.”
After the finale, Dillashaw wasted no time getting back in the gym with a commitment to getting better and improving upon the mistakes he made against Dodson.
He worked with his teammates at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif., and then when a number of them had to travel for other business, he took a trip to Orange County, Calif., and visited both Reign MMA, headed up by UFC middleweight Mark Munoz, and Kings MMA, led by legendary trainer Rafael Cordeiro.
The biggest thing now for Dillashaw is proving that he belongs in the UFC. He refuses to just be deemed as an Ultimate Fighter guy.
He plans on defining himself in the Octagon and it starts this Wednesday night against Walel Watson.
“I’m just going to get better and better. Even if I would have won, the pressure wouldn’t have been there just because of that fact, that I’m kind of new to the sport. People can put pressure on me all they want, it’s all in my own head,” said Dillashaw.
As far as the match-up, Dillashaw didn’t care who he got for his next fight, he just wanted to get back in there and wash the bad taste of defeat out of his mouth.
Now that he’s had a chance to go watch some fight footage on Watson and have a full camp to prepare for him, he’s more that confident that he’ll erase the memories of his loss to Dodson and create a whole new picture with his first win in the Octagon at UFC on Fuel TV 1.
“I feel like it’s a very good opponent for me,” Dillashaw stated. “I plan on making a statement and running right through him.”