5 Things You Might Not Know About T.J. Dillashaw

By: Guy Portman
Jan 9, 2019

T.J. Dillashaw (16-3) is the reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight champion. In his next outing, the 32 year-old will look to become a champion in two weight classes when he challenges UFC flyweight king Henry Cejudo for his 125-pound strap. The match will serve as the main event of UFC Fight Night 143, which will emanate from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Jan. 19.

In the lead-up to the title bout, here are five things that you might not know about Dillashaw.

He was a decorated wrestler.

During his time at Bret Harte High School in California, Dillashaw compiled an impressive wrestling record of 170 wins and 33 losses. He continued in the sport at California State University, Fullerton. His college wrestling achievements included fourth place finishes at the 2007 and 2008 Pac-10 Championships, as well as being a NCAA qualifier on three occasions. During his senior season, Dillashaw was ranked 10th in the nation at 133 pounds.

He was on “The Ultimate Fighter.”

The then Team Alpha Male representative was 4-0 as a pro when he joined the cast on the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Dillashaw gained entry to the house by besting Matt Jaggers by first round TKO. He was then chosen by Team Bisping. In the preliminary round, Dillashaw submitted Roland Delorme, qualifying him for the semi-finals. There he overcame Dustin Pague by unanimous decision. Dillashaw made his official UFC debut at TUF 14 Finale in Dec. 2011. He faced off against future UFC stalwart John Dodson. Dillashaw lost the match by first round TKO. The defeat is the only time in his career that he has been stopped.

He prefers striking.

Despite his wrestling background, Dillashaw’s preference is to duke it out on the feet. Eight (50 percent) of his wins have come by KO/TKO. His long-time striking coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig once said of his star student, “TJ stuck out from the first time I ran a class. His work ethic, the questions he was asking, his attention to detail, how focused he was during the drills, it was impressive.”

His split with his old camp was acrimonious.

Today, Dillashaw trains primarily with his former Team Alpha Male striking coach Duane Ludwig in Colorado at Ludwig Martial Arts. Since parting ways with their old team, there has been animosity between the two teams. The departure was played up in Dillashaw’s last two bouts with former teammate Cody Garbrandt. However, Dillashaw emerged victorious from both clashes via stoppage, winning at UFC 217 and UFC 227 respectively.

He once caused a big upset.

Going into his title tilt versus then bantamweight belt holder Renan Barao, at UFC 173 in July 2015, not many people gave the No. 4 ranked Dillashaw a chance against the pathologically aggressive Brazilian, who was unbeaten across his previous 33 contests. However, the American’s fast feet and accurate striking frustrated the champion, and the match eventually culminated in a fifth round TKO. Dillashaw’s performance that night saw him claim the World MMA Awards’ 2014 Upset of the Year. He also earned Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night bonuses. In the post-fight interview, UFC commentator Joe Rogan exclaimed, “That was the greatest performance I have ever seen in my life!” At UFC on Fox 16 in July 2015, Dillashaw met Barao in a rematch. With his fourth round TKO triumph, the American retained his bantamweight strap.

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