Former UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz has competed in the Octagon against both former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and current bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt.
Cruz thinks that the mental strain that Dillashaw is putting himself under will cost him when the two battle for the gold at UFC 213.
“I think stylistically, TJ has the technique and the tools to beat a guy like Cody,” Cruz said on The MMA Hour. “He kicks fluently, he mixes his punches and kicks. Cody has the edge in the power in the pocket, but TJ can make up the pocket work with kicks, movement, and angles, and he’s kicking a little bit more than I did against Cody, so I think that will play to his advantage. But as for the mental game, I think the fact that TJ is facing that whole camp, not just Cody Garbrandt, I think that’s really wearing on TJ. I think it’s going to keep wearing on him. I think the mental is what gets him beat against Cody.”
In his head to head matchups with both competitors, the former champion in Cruz defeating Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 81 and lost to Garbrandt at UFC 207.
The former bantamweight kingpin also believes that Team Alpha Male leader Urijah Faber should’ve handled the split better when Dillashaw left the team a few years back.
“Realistically, in my opinion, if Faber cared about TJ as much as he said he did, then he would’ve let him leave and do what he needed to do to better his career as a friend and a coach,” Cruz said. “(Alliance MMA head coach) Eric (del Fierro) has told me several times that if I ever need to leave our camp at Alliance and go anywhere, it wouldn’t matter, he would still manage me, still be my friend. He wants to see me do the best, wherever I think I need to go to be the best in the world. And my coach Eric del Fierro would never disown me, we would never have a problem. We’ve had this talk, ‘if you need to go, then go.’ Well, Faber couldn’t do that. It hurt his ego that his guy would go somewhere else and train with somebody that TJ thinks is better than Faber, and it hurt him that Ludwig was getting all this shine while he was at Faber’s camp, because that’s Faber’s camp. So that all being said, TJ isn’t just fighting Cody. He’s fighting that entire camp. He’s fighting Danny Castillo. He’s fighting Faber. He’s fighting Cody. He’s fighting all his old coaches. He’s fighting all his old friends and family members. I think that mental strain and the loneliness that he’s feeling on that show and over this period of time is wearing on him, and I think that the mental aspects of that are what gets him beat against Cody, not the technical aspects that TJ has.”
UFC 213 takes place on Saturday, July 8 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada with no main event announced at this time. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.