Former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has spent five rounds inside the Octagon with champion Cody Garbrandt and former titleholder TJ Dillashaw. He took the belt from Dillashaw by decision in January 2016 and relinquished it to Garbrandt in December. Garbrandt is set to put the 135-pound belt on the line for the first time at UFC 213 in July, and Cruz predicts that “No Love” will retain his title.
“I think Cody wins,” Cruz said during an appearance on The MMA Hour.
Cruz doesn’t base his prediction on the stylistic match-up between the two. He believes that Dillashaw has the skill set to win back the 135-pound title, but thinks the drama surrounding the two former teammates is weighing more on Dillashaw than Garbrandt and Team Alpha Male. The intensity of the rivalry has been on full display as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 25.
Dillashaw left the Urijah Faber-founded Team Alpha Male in 2015 to be trained by former Team Alpha Male head coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig. His departure sparked a feud. The situation was well publicized during TUF 22, coached by Faber and Conor McGregor. It’s continuing to play out on TUF 25 every Wednesday.
“TJ isn’t just fighting Cody. He’s fighting that entire camp,” said Cruz. “He’s fighting all his old coaches, all his old friends and family members. I think that mental strain and the loneliness that he’s feeling on that show and over this period of time is wearing on him.
“I think the mental aspects of that is what gets him beat against Cody, not the technical aspects that TJ has. I think stylistically, TJ has the technique and tools to beat a guy like Cody,” continued Cruz. “I think that the fact that TJ is facing that whole camp and not just Cody Garbrandt, I think that’s really wearing on TJ. I think it’s going to keep wearing on him. I think the mental is what gets him beat against Cody.”