VIDEO | Joseph Benavidez discusses ‘compromised’ friendship with TJ Dillashaw

“I mean… We were really good friends and really close,” Joseph Benavidez said at UFC Brooklyn media day when asked whether or not he and TJ Dillashaw are friends. “Things are a little… Things are a little compromised now.

“It’s easy to say you’re a friend and this guy’s a friend, and this guy’s a friend of mine, but it’s more like… To act like a friend, you know what I mean? Kinda like actions and words and stuff like that so… I wouldn’t say he acts like the best friend. But we have a history so we go back and there is friends that are just like, alright, well… You get annoyed each other or whatever for a while so I guess he was never a good friend but we were teammates and we had gone through a ton together so I think that brings him close. But other than that…

“I think some of the stuff he said like about the [flyweight] division and stuff, that’s when I was kinda like, questioning it,” Benavidez continued. “I was like, ‘that’s cool, you’re really going down and doing something for yourself and getting two belts, that’s amazing,’ TJ has an amazing drive and he’s at where he’s at because of that drive. But it’s like, you also have ‘friends’, me and other people included in the division you’re saying you wanna shut down. So that was kind of more when I started to question it.

“Him dropping down and all that stuff didn’t make me question a friendship at all, it was just like, I would never stop someone from achieving their goals but trying to go out and take things away from people while doing it is kinda like… ‘Oh,’ Well, that made me more question our friendship.”

UFC Brooklyn kicks off 2019 as the UFC’s first event of the year. It will also host the returns of former Team Alpha Male (TAM) teammates Joseph Benavidez and current bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw.

Returning after a rather short absence with his last fight coming in late November 2018, Benavidez scored a first-round TKO over Alex Perez to then earn a spot on the same card as Dillashaw as the replacement fighter for Dillashaw’s fight if needed.

The split between Dillashaw and Team Alpha Male is well documented and is probably the most dramatic and heated fighter departure from any gym in MMA history.

Seemingly everyone at TAM had issues with Dillashaw. Everyone except for Benavidez who even continued to work with the current champion after he left the gym.

However, now that they’ve gone their separate ways, Benavidez would happily fight his former teammate if the opportunity presents itself.

Dillashaw will be looking to dethrone Benavidez’ division’s champion in Henry Cejudo this Saturday night on ESPN+ at UFC Brooklyn. Many believe the fate of the division’s UFC future relies on this title fight.

Benavidez, on the other hand, will be looking to defeat Dustin Ortiz for the second time.

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/17/2019