In previous episodes of The Ultimate Fighter 22, Coach Conor McGregor warned Urijah Faber that his teammate and bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw was ‘the enemy.’ During the sixth episode, McGregor’s criticisms of the champion escalated when Dillashaw made an appearance as an assistant coach on Team Faber.
“As soon as I found out that Urijah was coaching The Ultimate Fighter, I knew after my fight I needed to come out and support the team and his team and give as much knowledge as I can,” said Dillashaw.
Faber, founder of Team Alpha Male, recruited Dillashaw while the champion was still in high school. In 2013, the team hired a new head coach, former UFC lightweight and accomplished kick boxer Duane Ludwig. Dillashaw and Ludwig formed a tight bond. When Ludwig left the team in 2014 and returned to his natives Colorado to pursue other opportunities, Dillashaw split his training camps between Team Alpha Male in Sacramento and Denver with Ludwig.
“I built my team, Team Alpha Male, and currently we have the world champ at 135 pounds, T.J. Dillashaw, who after I had a failed title shot, I put T.J. out there. I was like, give my boy a shot. He’s ready, and he came in and shocked the world,” explained Faber.
“Throughout this 11-year process of building the team, I brought in a coach named Duane. He was down and out in his life, came in for one year, and did a bunch of promotion. We all helped build up his name and then he bounced,” added Faber.
Faber and Ludwig never really got along. Recognizing that Dillashaw’s situation between Alpha Male and Ludwig is personal to Faber, McGregor has taken every opportunity to bring it up.
“Conor has been harassing Urijah about T.J. Dillashaw. Team Alpha Male, which is Urijah’s gym, brought in Duane Ludwig as their striking coach and T.J. Dillashaw wins a world title. Duane leaves and goes to Colorado and opens up his own gym. T.J., who had been with Alpha Male since he was a kid, ended up leaving and going to Duane’s new gym in Colorado and training with Duane,” explained UFC president Dana White. “He’s still with Team Alpha Male, but he did leave. So now Conor is saying he betrayed you. He’s a backstabber, and is really riding Urijah hard about T.J. Dillashaw.”
Dillashaw gave his side of the story, but since the season was filmed has permanently left Team Alpha Male and isn’t welcome to come back.
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“I’ve been going out and training with Duane Ludwig out in Colorado. Him and Urijah don’t see eye-to-eye. They’re not the same kind of people. Duane and I have had a close connection, so I train half my time in Sacramento for my camps and the other half is in Colorado,” said Dillashaw. “I’m aware that Conor has been talking crap to Urijah about me being a snake and trading teams and going out to Colorado and training. I’ve been expecting him to say something.”
Things nearly came to blows during the week’s weigh-in as McGregor relentlessly taunted Faber about Dillashaw. He referred to the champion as a “snake in the grass,” and told Faber to recognize that Dillashaw isn’t with Team Alpha Male. At one point, both teams were pushing and shoving after McGregor urged two fighters from Team Faber to “do something.”
“I simply spoke the truth. Tempers got flared. It was pushing and showing. It was close to blows,” said McGregor. “It was nothing.”
“Conor seems to forget that one of the reasons that he has an opportunity now is because guys like B.J. Penn and myself laid the foreground,” said Faber. “I’ve had a world championship belt long before even he could grow a beard, or cover up the zit marks that the has on his face.”
The Fight: Julian Erosa vs. Mehdi Baghdad
It was a matchup between two strikers, but the American’s output and movement gave Team McGregor’s Baghdad problems. Erosa established his jab and mixed in kicks to the body. Baghdad pressed forward looking to make something happen, but was hit with push kicks and combinations. Baghdad finished the opening round strong, but it wasn’t enough for two of the judges to score him the winner.
The second round was mostly dictated by Erosa. He outworked Baghdad on his way to a majority decision, putting matchmaking control back in the hands of Team Faber.
With the power to pick the matchup, Coach Faber selected Kentucky’s Thanh Le to go up against Sweden’s Martin Svensson. With the win, Team Faber leads the competition 3-2.