In one of the most hyped fights of the year, TJ Dillashaw returned to the top of his sport, knocking out Cody Garbrandt in the second round of their UFC bantamweight title bout. The matchup co-headlined UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden and lived up to billing. Dillashaw actually recovered from a beating in Round 1 to put down the then-undefeated champ.
After the match, he called out the man at the top of the flyweight division: “Demetrious Johnson, I’m coming for you,” Dillashaw said. “I’m breaking you. You dodged me. I’m getting that belt at 125.”
In the meantime, we revisit our Q&A with the 135-pounder, who’s full of useful insights on exercise, motorcycling, winning a bar fight and more…
“Best advice? Keep your hands on your face unless you want your opponent’s hands on your face. It’s an easy way to remember to keep your hands up so you don’t get hit.”
How does someone get six-pack abs like you?
Shoot, man, I think it’s just from training my whole life. But I’ve always known that core strength is one of the most important things and I’ve really worked on it. With wrestling growing up, a lot of my coaches always made me do a lot of core exercises.
What types of core exercises?
A lot of TRX stuff, a lot of planks and things like that. I don’t do the old traditional exercises like sit-ups, but I think kickboxing is seriously the thing that shreds me out the most. Just throwing so many kicks. It’s a great ab workout.
What’s a typical workout for you?
It depends. If I’m in fight camp, it’s going to be a good six-hour day, with four to six hours of training, six days a week. Like today if I was in camp, I’d show up, I’d do pro practice, which is usually a lot of kickboxing with wrestling and some jiu-jitsu, all in one practice. And then I’d do kickboxing in the afternoon, and then I’d do strength and conditioning in the evening. I usually like to end my night with strength and conditioning so that I don’t kill myself for my MMA part of the day. I want to feel great for that part.
What do you do for strength and conditioning?
Right now I’m doing more heavy lifting. More power exercises so that I can put some size on. When I’m in camp, I’ll do more plyometric and muscle endurance workouts. It all just depends on the timeline. But right now I’m doing a lot of powerlifts with my legs, and then a couple meathead type beach muscle workouts.
OK, let’s say you’re at a bar and a 250-pound man comes charging at you. What do you do?
[Laughs.] I only want to fight if I’m getting paid. But if I had to protect myself, if he’s coming at me and he doesn’t give me a choice, I would probably take his back [read: jump on his back] and try to either talk him out of it or maybe put him to sleep with a little choke [hold], so I don’t have to hurt him. But a lot of guys, if they don’t do MMA, it’s really easy to take their back. They’re kind of a fish out of water when it comes to grappling.
You rode dirt bikes as a kid and now ride a Harley that you won in a UFC fight. For someone learning to ride, what’s your number one tip?
Use your clutch. The clutch is your friend. It’ll always save your ass.
What’s the best fight advice you’ve ever gotten?
Best advice? Keep your hands on your face unless you want your opponent’s hands on your face. It’s an easy way to remember to keep your hands up so you don’t get hit.
Which is the better sport, MMA or boxing?
I love boxing. I grew up watching boxing, I’m a huge boxing fan. But MMA is just so much more dynamic. With boxing, they gotta worry about one thing, you know? With MMA, there’s so much to worry about. A fight can change instantly. You never know what’s going to happen. With boxing, it’s a little bit more predictable. I don’t feel like there’s as many surprises.
How large is the town you grew up in, Angels Camp, California?
It’s a real small town. Like 3,500 people.
You must be like the mayor.
It’s definitely funny to go home now these days. It’s a good time.
Do they have a sign along the road, announcing it’s the home of TJ?
They always put up stuff at the high school when I have my fights going on. And I do have my own day there in Angels Camp, which is pretty cool. I think June 21 is TJ Dillashaw Day.
That’s when you know you’ve made it.
Photos: Getty Images/Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Contributor, Getty Images/Mike Stobe/Stringer