The Team Alpha Male head-coach made some rather surprising admissions during an interview with MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani recently.
Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male are one of MMA’s most tightly knit groups but despite their long and storied history that has been filled to the brim with championship successes, UFC 217 earlier this month saw one of their most decorated students rob one of their brightest prospects of the bantamweight title he won in such stunning fashion just months prior.
Cody Garbrandt’s UFC 207 win against Dominick Cruz will perhaps go down as one of the modern era’s most shocking title changeovers but despite the fact that ‘No Love’ was a massive underdog in that matchup and won, the manner in which he dismantled the greatest bantamweight the sport has ever known was something that was truly shocking.
And though the victory and the belt that came with it were indeed sweet, conquering Cruz – for Garbrandt – was indicative of a new era of Team Alpha Male fighters, a first step in overcoming the former-champ’s domination of a vast number of the gym’s ranks and a real statement about where the Urijah Faber-led team stood in the sport.
So when the former-champ TJ Dillashaw – an old student of Faber’s – stole the belt away from the only recently-crowned Garbrandt in what was a stunning back-and-forth battle, the pain that it caused was plentiful, especially when you consider the highly tense buildup to the fight.
Faber spoke to MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani recently about the crushing loss and how respect existed between both parties, regardless of the somewhat thorny relationship that had manifested over the years.
“You really are looking at two of the best fighters on the planet in that weight class, undoubtedly, and we knew that. So when you have two of the best fighters going, being undefeated is a hard thing to do. I was 8-0 before I lost my first fight. I think Chad (Mendes) was maybe 10-0. I can’t remember how many fights T.J. had, he was something like that as well.
“But it’s a difficult thing to be unblemished when you’re going against the best fighters in the world, and in my opinion, Cody was having an incredible first round.
“It was unfortunate for us, but congrats to T.J.”
Of course, the loss was a tough one to take for the Alpha Male-faithful but despite the KO loss that occurred in the second round of the memorable scrap, Faber went on to state his belief that the rivalry between the pair is only just beginning.
“The crappy part is, obviously that there’s going to be another build-up with the same type of tension, because it wasn’t fun for me. I didn’t watch The Ultimate Fighter, I didn’t watch the Countdown stuff. I didn’t watch anything until the two days before, or maybe it was like three days before, when I was out cornering Lance and couldn’t sleep, so I started watching some of the stuff. But it’s not a fun situation. It’s a bunch of drama.
“I’m hearing a guy that I know for a fact is saying things about me that aren’t necessarily true, so it’s like, hearing this kind of stuff is not a fun situation. It’s going to happen again, absolutely. I think Cody and T.J. are going to fight again, we’re going to have to go through it again. It’s not the funnest build-up, so there’s a little bit to that.
“But actually, I think it would have been probably worse had he lost to Cruz, to be honest.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena