T.J. Dillashaw is taking plenty of heat for his decision to leave Team Alpha Male and move to Colorado’s Elevation Fight Team.

You can chastise and critique fighters for a lot of things. They might lack certain skills such as not being an effective striker or wrestler. They might be boring and give mundane answers to interview questions. They even be deemed as someone who lacks heart or discipline. All of that is fair game.

But why is Dillashaw taking an overabundance of crap for switching teams?

Fighters switch teams all the time. In this case, though, it’s more soap opera than strategic. And it is certainly a situation of preferential condemnation since Team Alpha Male’s crew would be considered one of the more popular casts in all of MMA.

They’re called teams when it comes to training but since when is MMA a team sport? Fighters will even thank their ‘team’ after a big win, but it was that fighter alone who stood across from and ultimately conquered his foe.

Dillashaw has every right to change camps. That is his prerogative. Whether the remaining Alpha Malers like or not, he was welcome to exit stage left. That goes for any fighter, but more so even in the case of a champion.

As the UFC’s bantamweight kingpin, there are some names chasing Dillashaw and his crown, none more potentially threatening than injury-riddled fighter, part-time FOX analyst, and former champion Dominick Cruz. Some will say that Dillashaw, along the same lines as Daniel Cormier, didn’t beat the champ to take the belt. I don’t believe in that theory for a second. In Cormier’s case, the champ was about to be spending time in front of judge and possibly time behind bars. For Dillashaw, the champ was injured, yet again, and there was no reasonable date for his expected return.

Even now, it’s no better than 50/50 that the Dillashaw vs. Cruz clash happens.

It is conceivable that Cruz’s body simply can’t take the rigors of training anymore and he’s forced to back out of the fight and retire. Dillashaw could face a few other challengers like the underrated and unheralded Raphael Assuncao, who happens to hold the last victory of Dillashaw from back in October 2013.

But sooner rather than later, the fight to make is Dillashaw vs. Urijah Faber.

The departed Alpha Male vs. the original Alpha Male.

Dillashaw’s departure from TAM is in large part due to the nasty separation between that camp and its former coach Duane Ludwig. While it is an ugly mark for the two sides, it only makes a fight between Dillashaw and Faber that much more compelling. Although Ludwig isn’t part of the Elevation staff, he’ll be welcomed inside the facility to coach Dillashaw. For his part Dillashaw will be paid to train at Elevation, a smart and tactical marketing move by Elevation to attract other elite fighters.

Dillashaw is scheduled to meet Cruz on January 17 in Boston. With Cruz’s injury history, it would behoove Faber to be ready as a replacement. Faber, who is coming off a one-sided decision loss to Frankie Edgar, could right his ship on December 12 against Frankie Saenz which would put him in the Win column – and victorious in three of his last four – entering a head-to-head against Dillashaw.

If Dillashaw actually does fight Cruz and retains his belt, and Faber bests Saenz, the pair must be matched up.

UFC 200 in Las Vegas would be the ideal spot.

About The Author

Scott Zerr
Staff Writer

Scott joins The MMA Corner having spent the last 14 years in mixed martial arts as Director of Media & Fighter Relations for the Maximum Fighting Championship. He will provide The MMA Corner with insight on breaking news in the sport, plus an insider's perspective on business developments, matchmaking, fighter signings, and much more. In addition to his longtime work in MMA, Scott was a sports reporter before moving into media relations and marketing. After growing up and working in Edmonton, Alberta, Scott has since moved to Bakersfield, California to be with his wife Christina (an avid fight fan, thank goodness) and kids.