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Ready for UFC title shot, TJ Dillashaw raves about training with 'Filipino Wrecking Machine' Mark Muñoz

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Ready for UFC title shot, TJ Dillashaw raves about training with 'Filipino Wrecking Machine' Mark Muñoz
TJ Dillashaw (right) gets his hands raised after defeating Cory Sandhagen.
UFC

MANILA, Philippines – Mixed martial arts fighter TJ Dillashaw is where he expects to be after a two-year suspension for taking banned substances — competing for a UFC championship belt.

On Sunday, October 23, the 17-4 Dillashaw will challenge champion Aljamain Sterling and his 21-3 record for the UFC bantamweight title at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

Dillashaw voluntarily surrendered the bantamweight title after he was found to have used a banned substance against Henry Cejudo. Following his return to the Octagon, he defeated Cory Sandhagen albeit in controversial fashion as some quarters felt the latter won the fight.

“I watched that fight and there is no way I lost that,” emphatically said Dillashaw. “I beat the No. 1 contender in the world with a blown out knee. I didn’t know how I was going to get it done, I just gutted it out to get the win. That’s pure will that cannot be taught.”

While there is no contesting his will to fight, Dillashaw has prepared for this fight with long-time friend and wrestling coach, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Muñoz. 

“He is a legend,” Dillashaw, said of Muñoz, who was his coach at Cal State Fullerton while fighting in the UFC. “He is the guy who got me into fighting. So I looked up to him.”

“Mark talked me out of dropping out of graduate school and giving this fighting thing a shot. So I packed up stuff in the back of a truck and went to Sacramento to learn and train for mixed martial arts.” 

 Prior to working with Muñoz (of which he still does), Dillashaw went to Ukraine to learn more wrestling.

 “Wrestling is big in Ukraine,” enthused Dillashaw. “It was my sophomore year in college when I went to train near the Black Sea. The wrestling out there is amazing. Here I was, a Fulbright scholar getting my butt kicked. That was my schooling there. It was an amazing trip.”

“It is sad to see what is going on in Ukraine. Just praying that everyone is safe. It adds a bit of value because I’ve been there before,” he said of the current conflict in the Ukraine.

Right now, the conflict to come is UFC 280. 

“I love this fight for me,” he said of the challenge to Sterling’s throne. “I think I match up well with him. It will not be an easy fight for sure. But I will capitalize on my strengths and take advantage of his weaknesses.”

UFC 280 will be shown in the Philippines on the Premier Sports Channel of Skycable and Cignal as well as on the TapGo TV streaming application.

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