TJ Dillashaw: TUF doesn't show reality

by Jack Brown |

This is number thirty-seven in Jack Brown’s series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and for this particular interview, we’re pleased to feature UFC bantamweight and TUF 14 finalist, TJ Dillashaw.  Dillashaw has won three in a row since losing his debut fight in the UFC at the TUF 14 finale.  He is scheduled to be facing Hugo Viana at UFC on FOX 7 this Saturday.  Please enjoy the conversation below.

Jack Brown: What was your first experience with martial arts/combat sports, and how did it become more than just a hobby for you?

TJ Dillashaw: Well my first martial art was wrestling, and my dad got me involved when I was eight years old.  My father wrestled in high school and college and thought it would be a great sport to pass down.  Naturally I was pretty good at it.  It became more than a hobby for me when I was a junior in high school and I realized I could go really far in the sport and wanted to get a full ride to college.

JB: What do you recall about your first professional MMA fight, and how prepared do you feel you were at the time? 

TD: My first professional fight was for King of the Cage in Reno, Nevada.  It was a pretty good show, definitely a lot better than my next three.  And after that, I got on the TV series, TUF 14.  In my debut, I fought a fighter that I knew nothing about.  I remember that he was very tough and that we had a three round bloody battle.  As far as my preparation, I felt very confident that I was the better fighter and had done everything that I needed to.  I was training with the top fighters in the world at my weight class and was catching on quick.

JB: You entered the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter 14.  You were very successful on the show and you were a bantamweight finalist.  How did you feel as you watched the show and prepared for the finale, and what do you think about your official debut, a somewhat controversial TKO loss to John Dodson?

TD: Well I was a little disappointed when I watched the show.  I didn’t realize how easy it would be for the producers to show what they want and to switch the order of things, as well as how much stuff they would leave out.  They tried to build a plot for the finals and made anybody look the way they wanted.  I was a little pissed that they switched the order of my fight to make it look like I was trying to take the easy way out when I had already fought. 

My thoughts on my UFC debut at first were bitter!  I did get caught with my hand down by the speed of John Dodson.   He missed his punch and clubbed me with his forearm right behind the ear.  He knocked me loopy for a second, and I was in the process of recovering and going for a single leg, when Herb Dean stopped the fight too early.  I had trained for that fight too long and hard to not get the shot at recovering.  I was bitter because I felt like I was the better fighter and let that TUF title slip through my fingers.  Since then, I have learned to put it behind me by realizing the bigger picture ahead and that it must have been meant to be.

JB: You have been both a competitor and a coach on TUF.  How did the two experiences compare?

TD: Being a coach is a whole lot better!  You’re not stuck in the house the whole time and you don’t have to be constantly watching your back.  There is a lot more drama involved while living in the house, and the producers make sure of that by giving no form of entertainment or privacy and by stocking the house full of alcohol.

JB: Your second round KO of Issei Tamura in your last fight, at UFC 158, was a dominant victory.  You're now 3-0 since your loss at the TUF 14 Finale.  What has contributed to your success and how do you feel about your last three performances? 

TD: I feel my drive to be the best and mixing that with a great camp/team has contributed the most to my success.  I feel good about my performances and feel that I’m heading in the right direction with my skills and that I keep getting better.

JB: Your next fight will be on short notice.  You are replacing the injured Francisco Rivera, and you will be fighting Hugo Viana, on April 20th, at UFC on FOX 7, in San Jose.  What do you think of the matchup, and how do you feel about fighting again so soon after your last fight? 

TD: I feel like it is a good matchup for me and that I’m a better, more well-rounded fighter.  Hugo is good, but in my eyes, very beatable.  As long as I stay injury-free, I would love to fight as often as I am now.  I took my last fight against Tamura on 3-weeks-notice and now this one is 4 weeks later.  I’m always in the gym staying ready so that I don’t have to get ready.

JB: You are part of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento.  How did you first connect with the team and what has training there done for you? 

TD: Well I first met Urijah Faber at a wrestling camp that my assistant wrestling coach at Cal State Fullerton, Mark Munoz, was putting on.  I had been following Mark around doing some training with MMA because I was a fan of the sport and needed a way to stay in shape after I graduated and my wrestling career was over.  It was just something I did for fun while I was pursuing grad school to become a physician’s assistant.  Mark thought I was a natural and thought I could be good.  Mark was telling Urijah that when I met him for the first time, and Munoz thought it would be a perfect place for me.  Urijah invited me up to live in one of his houses on the block (it consists of four houses in one neighborhood) and train full-time.  I couldn’t pass it up.  I told myself that I had one year to see if I was any good at the sport, and if so, I would continue with it.  But otherwise, I would go back to grad school.

JB: What else do you enjoy outside of training and fighting, and who are the individuals who have supported you most in life?

TD: Things that I like to do other than training and fighting are hunting, fishing, camping, wake-boarding/snowboarding (which I haven't gotten to do since I’ve been in the UFC), and hanging with friends and family.  The people that have supported me most in life are my parents and brothers and my girlfriend.

JB: Last question, TJ, and thanks for taking the time to do this.  What does it mean to you to be a fighter and how much do you enjoy it? 

TD: I enjoy being a fighter very much.  I love the rush I get competing in an intense one on one sport.  The joy and self-fulfillment I get out of fighting is the pursuit of excellence mentally, physically, and spiritually.


Thank you so much for reading and please follow @TJDillashaw, and @Jackjohnbrown on Twitter.

Visit Facebook for links to all of Jack’s past interviews and blogs.

Thank you to @KirikJenness  for @theUG.


tags: UFC   TJ Dillashaw (detail)  


Get the MMA Underground app. for iPhone and Andriod devices.
iPhone Application Andriod MMA Underground Application

Recent Comments »

CindyO site profile image  

4/18/13 7:36 PM by CindyO

I don't feel sorry for anyone exploited on the show because they know what they're getting into and they sign away certain rights that some try to whine about later. You don't even have to be an applicant to see the agreement TUF castmembers will be required to sign and it isn't a short document. This section is clear, IMO: Right to Edit Without limiting any other provision hereof, I hereby grant you the right to edit, change and dub any of the Recordings with any other material, as you determine in your sole discretion. Ownership of Series and other Programs, Recordings and Exploitation Rights/Publicity (a) I agree that you are and will be the exclusive owner of all copyright and all other rights of every kind and description in the Recordings, the Series, any other Programs and their underlying and constituent elements (including, without limitation, all rights of every kind and description in all Recordings I own or control which are used in the Series or any other Programs). I further agree that you will retain in perpetuity (i.e. forever), the submittal video tape and its Recordings. (b) Without limiting the above, you have the exclusive and irrevocable right to distribute, broadcast, exhibit and otherwise exploit an unlimited number of times all or any portion of the Recordings, the Series, any other Programs and their constituent and underlying elements in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, and by any and all now known or hereafter devised means, throughout the Universe, in all languages in perpetuity (i.e., forever), without any further obligation to me (except as expressly provided herein). Further without limiting the above, I irrevocably consent and grant you the exclusive right to use my name, voice, likeness and biography and any of the Recordings in merchandising and print publication, trade purposes and in any advertising, promotions, cross-promotions and publicity relating to the Series or any other Programs, their sponsors, distributors and exhibitors, or to the sponsors', distributors' and exhibitors' products and services, including (without limitation) on the Internet and/or wireless, or in any other media or forms now known or hereafter devised, regardless of whether I appear in any episode of the Series or in the applicable other Program(s) Potentially Embarrassing Material I acknowledge that, before signing and mailing to You this Agreement and Release, Fighter Information Sheet, and submittal video tape, and before appearing on the Series or other Programs and any publicity therefor, I have been advised of the format of the Series and I am fully familiar with the Series, and I have no objections to such format; I understand that the rights I grant to you herein may result in any or all of the following, and I hereby freely and fully consent to the same: (a) inclusion of material in the Series and other Programs which may potentially be embarrassing or emotionally trying; which may not be completely accurate in depicting my actual statements, thoughts, beliefs, motives, emotions, states of mind, health status, actions or ideas; or which may have the effect of reflecting negatively on me or my reputation; and (b) inclusion of material in the series and other programs which may result in the revelation that I am now engaged, or in the past have engaged, in acts which could result in civil liability or my criminal prosecution or the prosecution of others. Your Decisions Final Your decision on all discretionary matters (including selection of participants, activities and the material included in the Series or other Programs) is final; without limiting the preceding you are not obliged to select me as a participant, and nothing contained in this agreement and release in any way obliges you to use any of the Recordings or the rights granted to you under this agreement and release or to prepare, produce, exhibit, distribute or exploit the Recordings, the Series, any other Programs or any of their elements. I waive any rights I might have to review, inspect or approve any use of the Recordings, the Series, any other Programs and their constituent and underlying elements, or the subject matter(s) raised in the Recordings, the Series, any other Programs, or any other use of their constituent and underlying elements, or the nature or content of any such use. Entire agreement these fighters get in advance can be found at: Cindy

Condit's Face Broke My Hand site profile image  

4/18/13 6:41 PM by Condit's Face Broke My Hand

BJ Penn said almost all of the drama and crap was fake in his book too

time traveling 12er site profile image  

4/18/13 12:46 PM by time traveling 12er

Wow. Dillishaw is really naive if he didn't expect this to happen.  This goes on in literally every reality show ever made.

HELWIG site profile image  

4/18/13 12:34 PM by HELWIG

TUF has some VERY shady and questionable shit going on. Ive spoken to a number of guys from several different seasons of the show. Everything from scripted events, to baiting you into doing something that they will then show totally out of chronological order to present events that didnt happen, to fighters having gay tv execs talk about watching them clean themselves after using the bathroom.(full cameras set up in all shower and toilets) Really soured me to the whole thing. And I was at the very first public tryouts and thought TUF would be awesome to be on.

MattBFD site profile image  

4/18/13 12:01 PM by MattBFD

In other news: Scientists say water found to be wet.

man meets fate site profile image  

4/18/13 11:55 AM by man meets fate

Please someone search that thread about Charles McCarthy inter iew where he sId tuf uses scripts a lot

flipmode site profile image  

4/18/13 11:49 AM by flipmode

Whoever wrote the "Let Me Bang Bro" scene is a genius.

flipmode site profile image  

4/18/13 11:47 AM by flipmode

Dumb, and probably not true.

The Gumball Kid site profile image  

4/18/13 11:16 AM by The Gumball Kid


Aiderbooze site profile image  

4/18/13 11:15 AM by Aiderbooze

I realize that the producers can use the magic of editing to do a lot for the show, but at the same time I think that fighters can do some things to prevent it.In most cases I believe where there is smoke there is fire...What I mean is that a lot of guys can't use the whole 'editing' excuse to say why they may have come across as a douche on the show.