After hearing T.J. Dillashaw deny recent allegations fired at him by former teammates, Chris Holdsworth couldn’t hold his tongue any longer.
The undefeated Holdsworth, a former winner of The Ultimate Fighter and a man that at one time was considered an elite prospect, hasn’t fought since he scored a decision win over Chico Camus on May 24th of 2014 due to concussion-related issues. Though Holdsworth has always been vague when talking about the genesis of his health problems, his Team Alpha Male brethren Urijah Faber and Cody Garbrandt claimed on a September edition of The Joe Rogan Experience that they stem from a 2013 sparring incident involving Dillashaw.
It’s no secret that T.J. is aggressive and likes to go hard in practice, but there is a big difference between being overzealous in sparring and the sort of conduct that Dillashaw’s former teammates have accused him of. Faber and Garbrandt, who have of course become entrenched in a bitter rivalry with Dillashaw since his departure from Team Alpha Male in 2015, accuse the former UFC bantamweight king of landing an egregious, despicable cheap shot on Holdsworth, which, by the sounds of things, bordered on a criminal assault.
“I guess Chris choked him out and T.J. got up and fucking kneed him in the back of the head when he was down on the mat,” claimed Garbrandt.
“Have I been overly aggressive in some sparring sessions? Yes, I have,” Dillashaw said in response to the accusations when he appeared on last week’s edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “There’s things, there’s punches and things I’ve thrown that’s been too aggressive and I’ve gotten to where I’ve had to tell myself, yeah, I shouldn’t have done that, kind of thing. But I’ve never blatantly ever deliberately kneed someone in the back of the head and tried to end their career. I’ve gotten too aggressive in sparring, which we all have.”
Appearing on this week’s episode of the same show however, Holdsworth claimed that Dillashaw was not being truthful when he uttered those words.
“I’ve been quiet about this for awhile,” Holdsworth said. “I’m just not the type of person to jump into people’s feuds or drama. I like to lay low and just do my thing, but there’s been some talk, and after I heard T.J. lying about the subject, I’ve got to speak up on it.”
“T.J. has always been a great fighter, he’s a great athlete, but he’s always had, I don’t know, some type of competitive feud with me ever since I came to the team. I don’t know if it was because of envy or jealousy or whatever it was, but I just kinda always brushed it off as him being competitive and being, just, ultra-aggressive. I was always up for the fight, but there was multiple occasions where T.J. got a little bit too aggressive, he went overboard in training. He’s kneeing you while we’re boxing. He’s throwing elbows while we’re doing jiu-jitsu. And I remember that instance that’s out in the public — yeah, it’s definitely true.”
“I shot in on T.J. and I was on all fours, he was sprawled out and he kneed me on top of the head. And that was before The Ultimate Fighter. I remember I was kinda jarred up and everyone was watching, and I took like 30 seconds off and I kept going, I kept going through the rounds and I finished practice. But after that practice, I was concussed, and that was my first concussion. And it just kinda kept happening from there(via MMAFighting).”
This wasn’t the only startling claim that Holdsworth made though. He also echoed Faber by suggesting that Dillashaw has used performance enhancing drugs in the past.
“There was another instance leading up to the Chico fight, when he was getting ready for [Renan] Barao,” Holdsworth said. “And then it comes to where I hear he’s on some special supplements and stuff, and I just lost respect for the guy. There’s no hard feelings, it’s whatever it is, but he’s a cheater.”
On the same night that Holdsworth beat Camus, Dillashaw ripped the bantamweight title from Barao in shockingly dominant fashion, finishing the then pound for pound rated Brazilian in the fifth round. He would go on to score another emphatic win over ‘The Baron’ a little more than a year later, before he dropped the title to Dominick Cruz in January of 2016. Cruz subsequently lost the strap to Garbrandt and in the meantime Dillashaw scored a couple of impressive rehabilitative victories to earn another crack at the title. This sequence of events has set up a mouth-watering grudge match between Dillashaw and Garbrandt that has been marinating for over two years.
We are not disputing the veracity of Holdsworth’s claims nor insinuating that they represent a deliberate and premeditated attempt by Team Alpha Male to play mind games with Dillashaw ahead of his UFC 217 showdown with Garbrandt, but, regardless, they may well have a psychological impact on T.J. just days out from arguably the most significant bout of his career.