Dominick Cruz: Alpha Male Occupies TJ Dillashaw’s Head Space

The continuing devolution of TJ Dillashaw‘s relationship with his former teammates at Team Alpha Male is likely to cause problems when he challenges Cody Garbrandt for the bantamweight championship at UFC 217 in November.

The long history between Dillashaw and his current coach, Duane Ludwig, and Team Alpha Male’s Garbrandt, Urijah Faber, Justin Buccholz, and others, is jaded at best.

Dillashaw cut his MMA teeth with the Alpha Male crew. When Ludwig came on board as the team’s coach, Dillashaw made an instant connection. Under the combined guidance of Ludwig and Alpha Male, Dillashaw captured the UFC bantamweight championship from Renan Barao and defended it twice.

There was a very public falling out when Ludwig left Alpha Male to start his own martial arts training center in his home base of Colorado and Dillashaw soon followed. Things have never been the same. Alpha Male labeled Dillashaw a traitor and only harsh words have been said since.

Although it’s been a couple of years since the scenario played out, the harsh feelings have not subsided. After Dillashaw lost the belt to Dominick Cruz, and then Garbrandt took it from him, the flames have only grown hotter. 

Dillashaw was slated to challenge Garbrandt over the summer after the two coached opposite each other on The Ultimate Fighter, but that fell apart when Garbrandt’s back wouldn’t conform with the plan and the champ had to withdraw.

Now, they are rescheduled to meet as part of the blockbuster UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre fight card on Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Cruz, however, feels that the sordid history between the parties involved will play negatively for Dillashaw as the fight rolls around.

“(Dillashaw) has some fights since I fought him, so you can tell he’s made some changes. He wasn’t looking as aggressive. He’s taking his time more and doing what he needed to. I think that type of mindset is going to be real important for him to get to Cody. He has all the tools,” Cruz said on a recent edition of UFC Unfiltered.

“It’s just the question of how is he going to deal with that whole team, in my opinion, because that whole team plays a very interesting game.”

That is where the crux of the problem lies, as Cruz sees it. Dillashaw has angst with the Alpha Male team, not just one or two fighters. It’s not simply Dillashaw and Faber or Dillashaw and Garbrandt hurling insults at each other. It’s the majority of Team Alpha Male that is constantly taking shots at Dillashaw, criticizing not only his decision to leave the team, but also his behavior while he was part of the team. 

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“Justin Buchholz likes to get in guys’ heads because he’s an ex-fighter that wanted to fight, but didn’t quite get to do what he wanted to, so he stepped up and is somewhat living vicariously thought the Alpha Male team,” Cruz continued.

“That being said, he still runs his mouth. He’s still trying to chat at you, still trying to jaw. He plays a lot of weird games and I know he’s going to be playing with TJ Dillashaw. They all work together, that team. They are all a bunch of fighters that work together to try to manipulate, especially when it comes down to TJ.

“They all know everything about him. They know that he was a hot head. They knew that he had went through and hurt some of their teammates while they were training because he gets upset.”

That factor could keep Dillashaw from being at his best, despite an improving skillset, when he steps in the cage opposite Garbrandt.

“They just know so much about him that I feel like that’s going to play a little part in the build-up to this fight. That it’s going to mess with TJ a little bit, personally, where he’s not quite 100-percent mentally there just because those were his old friends,” Cruz posited.

“I know that it hurts him that he’s not part of that squad, or it did for a while. Anymore, I’m not sure. I think that head space thing is a real thing for those guys.”

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Paul Daley Lands Bone-Crushing KO at Bellator 183 (FULL Event Fight Highlights)

(Video courtesy and permission of Bellator MMA)

Bellator 183: Henderson vs. Ptibull took place on Friday, Sept. 23 at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Bellator veteran Patricky “Pitbull” Freire took on former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the night’s main event. It was a hard-fought bout that ended with a narrow verdict.

Paul Daley ended Lorenz Larkin’s night in the co-main event with the patented left-hook for which he’s known.

Other bouts included Roy Nelson’s promotional debut, a big rebound by Aaron Pico in the second bout of his professional career, and Goiti Yamauchi added to his winning streak.

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Bellator 183: Henderson vs. Pitbull Results:

  • Patricky “Pitbull” Freire def. Benson Henderson by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Paul Daley def. Lorenz Larkin by KO (punches) at 2:40, R2
  • Roy Nelson def. Javy Ayala by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Aaron Pico def. Justin Linn by KO (punch) at 3:45, R1
  • Goiti Yamauchi def. Adam Piccolotti by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:19, R1

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Dana White Rips the Gökhan Saki Doubters

If you think kickboxing legend Gökhan Saki‘s fight was stopped too early, just walk away.

That’s basically the message from UFC president Dana White, who addressed those that felt criticized Saki’s fight for being stopped too soon. 

Saki had been battering Luis Henrique Da Silva, moving him around the cage at UFC Fight Night 117 with powerful punches, but the tough Brazilian stood toe-to-toe with Saki deep into the opening round. 

He stood with Saki until he was his hit with the Saki Bomb, the Turkish fighter’s patented left hand, that put Da Silva on his back. 

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Once the Brazilian hit the canvas, the referee immediately stepped between them to keep Saki from dropping any more punches on the downed fighter. While most realized the significance of the power Saki possesses, there was still a smattering of fans and pundits alike that cried foul, claiming an early stoppage. 

White, however, addressed the cries with one pointed comment on Instagram, ”

Dana White - Gokhan Saki don't be a referre instagram

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Watch the Bellator 183 Prelims, Streaming Live and Free on

PLAYER NOTES: Press the play button in the center and then again in the lower left corner.
(Video courtesy of Bellator and Spike | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)

Bellator 183: Henderson vs. Pitbull goes down on Saturday in San Jose, Calif. and airs on Spike. But before the main card showdowns that include Benson Henderson vs. Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, Paul Daley vs. Lorenz Larkin, and more, check out the prelims.

The Bellator 183 Prelims stream live and free on The prelims stream begins at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m PT.

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OSP’s ‘Von Preux’ Choke, Gokhan Saki’s Thunderous KO Earn Bonuses in Japan

Ovince Saint-Preux had to face a late notice replacement in his main event fight, but he made the most of his performance with a jaw-dropping submission to cap off the latest UFC card in Japan.

Saint-Preux made short work of veteran fighter Yushin Okami in the opening round after securing top position and pulling off his third Von Flue choke since joining the UFC roster to earn a $50,000 Performance of the Night award.

While the submission is coined after former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor Jason Von Flue, Saint-Preux has pulled off more finishes with the move than anybody else in UFC history, so it might be time for a name change.

The Von Preux choke perhaps?Jessica Andrade UFC Japan Fight Highlights

Former kickboxing legend Gokhan Saki made quite the impression with his UFC debut as he flattened Henrique da Silva with a nasty first round knockout to earn his first MMA win, as well as a Performance of the Night award.

The co-main event between Jessica Andrade and Claudia Gadelha was a bloody war over three rounds, which is why the strawweight contenders earned $50,000 each for ‘Fight of the Night’.

This is the third post fight bonus in five fights for Andrade since dropping down to 115-pounds.

UFC Fight Night 117 Fighter Bonuses

  • Fight of the Night: Claudia Gadelha vs. Jessica Andrade
  • Performance of the Night: Ovince Saint-Preux
  • Performance of the Night: Gokhan Saki

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