On the planet of combined martial arts, there aren’t too many groups as shut because the Staff Alpha Male squad in Sacramento. See one among their fighters someplace, and three extra are possible within the neighborhood. It’s a collective that trains collectively, eats collectively, and hangs out collectively, so when somebody leaves that group, it’s an enormous deal.

That brings us to Nov. four in Madison Sq. Backyard, the location the place present TAM member Cody Garbrandt defends his UFC bantamweight title towards former teammate TJ Dillashaw within the UFC 217 co-major occasion. In a struggle recreation full of dangerous blood rivalries, this is perhaps probably the most heated in the intervening time, one which has been simmering ever since Dillashaw left California for Colorado in October 2015.

On the time, it seemed to be an amicable cut up, with Dillashaw merely opting to proceed his work with former TAM head coach Duane Ludwig.

UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw face off during the filming of <a href='../event/Ultimate-Fighter-Team-Serra-vs-Team-Hughes-Finale'><a href='../event/The-Ultimate-Fighter-Team-US-vs-Team-UK-FINALE'><a href='../event/The-Ultimate-Fighter-Heavyweights-FINALE'>The Ultimate Fighter:</a></a></a> Redemption at the UFC TUF Gym on March1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC)“I informed them (Staff Alpha Male), ‘Look, it’s an actual robust state of affairs for me, and I don’t need to depart my staff and I need to determine some issues out,’” he advised me when his departure turned public. “So I’ve been speaking about it, however I simply lastly made the choice yesterday, so it’s type of loopy how briskly information is spreading. However issues are good, I’ve acquired a variety of help from the blokes they usually know my state of affairs. There’s no exhausting emotions in any way and I plan on persevering with to be a part of the household although I’ll be doing my camp out in Colorado. All these guys are pricey to my coronary heart, and I’m going to proceed to spend time with them and all that, however my coaching camps will probably be in Colorado.”

Because the months went on, although, sniping started between all events concerned, solely getting louder after Dillashaw misplaced his bantamweight crown to Dominick Cruz in January 2016. As Dillashaw appeared to rebound and get a rematch with Cruz, Garbrandt went from prospect to contender with wins over Augusto Mendes, Thomas Almeida and Takeya Mizugaka, and at UFC 207 in December of final yr, he turned champion with an upset victory over Cruz.

Dillashaw, who bounced again from the lack of his belt with wins over Raphael Assuncao and John Lineker, now had a transparent path again to the title, and it meant a struggle together with his former teammate.

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First, the 2 would sq. off as coaches on season 25 of The Final Fighter, a season entitled, “Redemption.” And whereas that title referred to the rivals in search of one other shot on the UFC via a second journey on the truth present, Dillashaw had one other, extra private, which means in thoughts.

“I feel the redemption theme for me is redemption towards my previous group (Group Alpha Male), the blokes which have type of burned me, the blokes that stabbed me within the again a bit bit,” he stated earlier than the present aired. “My redemption is proving all of them mistaken, displaying that I did make the appropriate selection in my life and telling my story. Every part’s been within the public eye a lot about me shifting and following (coach) Duane (Ludwig) out to Colorado. However I don’t really feel just like the true story has ever been advised.”

As for the brand new champion, the often laid-again method of Garbrandt amped up in depth when speaking about Dillashaw.

“I used to be by no means pals with TJ,” he stated. “TJ tried to play the sufferer on the present. In all actuality, he bought out. I might by no means do this.”

Dillashaw’s squad would dominate on the present, profitable six of eight first-spherical matchups earlier than closing issues out by having all 4 semifinal slots crammed by the blueshirts. However Garbrandt was content material figuring out that his fists would get the final phrase in November.

“It’s gonna be a enjoyable struggle,” Garbrandt stated. “Once I battle with rage and keenness, the extra I get into it and simply like it. Now karma’s coming again to him. I’m karma, and I’m the meanest karma there’s on the earth.”

 Team Garbrandt and Team Dillashaw pose for a portrait during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption at the UFC TUF Gym on January 25, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC)Dillashaw needs his belt again, although, and he’s utilizing what he discovered about Garbrandt on the present to propel him again to the highest of the bantamweight division.

“You undoubtedly study some new issues about his character and who he’s,” Dillashaw stated. “In my thoughts, he’s not an excellent individual; he’s about himself and really egocentric, and that additionally comes throughout in coaching. I noticed a whole lot of new issues that I’m going to have the ability to use to my benefit on this coaching camp and in our struggle. I don’t really feel like he exhibits anyone any respect. He’s acquired a chip on his shoulder and I can’t wait to make him pay for it.”

Two years within the making, this rivalry will get 25 minutes or much less to be settled this fall.