Despite only having four fights going into the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter, T.J. Dillashaw was one of the most hyped and anticipated participants on the show.
A product of Cal State Fullerton’s wrestling program, Dillashaw already had the perfect base to move into mixed martial arts when he was introduced to the sport by former WEC champion Urijah Faber and invited to train at his Team Alpha Male camp in Sacramento, Calif.
Like a duck to water, Dillashaw picked up the necessary skills to win a couple of amateur fights before going 4-0 in his pro career while training alongside fighter like Faber, Joseph Benavidez, and Chad Mendes.
The next step for Dillashaw was to make it onto The Ultimate Fighter, and once he was there he again displayed his dominance. Dillashaw plowed through Matt Jaggers to get into the house before defeating Roland Delorme and Dustin Pague to make his way to the finals.
That’s where Dillashaw will face his toughest test to date in the form of longtime Greg Jackson student John Dodson. The two bantamweights will square off with The Ultimate Fighter 14 crown up for grabs, but also for a certain amount of respect.
Throughout the season, Dodson poked and prodded Dillashaw, calling him a ‘draft dodger’ for not asking to fight him during the initial elimination rounds. Dillashaw, however, has a different version of the story saying that he never believed Dodson wanted anything to do with fighting him while they were still on the show.
“He’s not going to be able to talk his way out of this one. Even some of those guys on his team and some other guys in the house, John Dodson didn’t really want to fight me. He was just in there saying if he was going to lose, he might as well lose to the guy you thought was the best. So that was the way he was looking at it,” Dillashaw revealed on MMAWeekly Radio.
“It turned out better for him, now he gets to fight me in the finale. He at least gets to make it to the finals.”
Dillashaw listened to Dodson both in the house and since then re-watching episodes of the show, so he’s well aware of how the New Mexico based fighter feels about him. Regardless of what Dodson has had to say about him so far, Dillashaw doesn’t want to engage in a war of words.
He’ll just speak softly and carry a big stick in the form of his fists into the cage on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
“I think it’s a good fight for me. Dodson likes to stay on the outside and try to land a couple punches here and there, and him talking crap has definitely fueled the fire a little bit,” said Dillashaw.
“I’m not one of those crap talkers. I kind of like to respect everybody and show everything in the cage. Kind of like to talk crap with my fists. We’ll see who’s going to prevail here, the guy who likes to talk a lot and builds confidence that way or someone who believes in themselves and bring it when you can in the fight.”
Dillashaw doesn’t mind the pre-fight chatter from his opponent because he’ll get to be the ultimate equalizer when the cage door closes and so does Dodson’s mouth.
If Dodson is trying to talk himself into believing he can compete with Dillashaw, the Team Alpha Male fighter is more than happy to step in there and show him what it’s like.
“Most people that have to talk that much are insecure about something. He’s got something to make up for,” said Dillashaw.
“It’s going to be a lot more than just talking when we get in the cage.”