When Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw step into the cage in July, Urijah Faber will be undoubtedly experiencing a mix of emotions. The head of Team Alpha Male, Faber is a close mentor to the champion Garbrandt, and his conflict with ex-teammate Dillashaw had dominated headlines over the last year.
Dillashaw left the gym when he held the bantamweight title last year, drawing much criticism from members of Team Alpha Male. His falling out with Faber was ugly and public, with both sides sending disparaging comments in the other’s direction.
Things have changed since then: Dillashaw lost his title to Dominick Cruz, who was finally defeated by Garbrandt in December. Weeks prior to Garbrandt’s monumental victory, Faber announced his retirement from the sport so he could focus on a leadership role with the team he built.
Now that Faber’s top protege is the champion and is set to defend the belt against a friend turned rival, Faber is not holding back in his prediction for the fight.
“I think it’ll probably be a knockout, just because Cody hits hard,” Faber said in an interview with MMAFighting. “We’ve seen it in his fights, we’ve seen it in the room. He’s got a history. T.J.’s also a heavy hitter, but not like Cody. They’re going to be in a gun fight.”
Faber knows Dillashaw as well as anyone, and therefore he knows that the former champion presents a formidable test for Garbrandt in the young champion’s first title defense. He believes the knockout will come, as it had in three consecutive Garbrandt performances prior to his decision win over Cruz, but he knows it will be hard-earned.
“I don’t think it’ll be that early — I don’t know when, you can’t predict that stuff,” he said. “But, I know it’s going to be a very tough fight. I’ve seen T.J. and some of his stuff, and he’s already freaking out like a wild man, as he tends to do. It’s going to be a competitive fight, and Cody’s going to get it.”