Why did TJ Dillashaw fight with a debilitating injury?
Because the former bantamweight champion believed he was good enough to defeat Aljamain Sterling in the UFC 280 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event with only one good shoulder. So either Dillashaw was supremely confident in his own skills, or somehow convinced that “Funk Master” was a sloppy bum who presented little-to-no danger.
“He legitimately came into this fight and went through his training camp thinking I was going to be an easy fight with one arm or one arm that compromised in terms of grappling,” Sterling told MMA Fighting. “If he either took a shot and I sprawled, his shoulder would have came out the socket or if he posted on his arm, it would come out the socket. So for him to go through a training camp, either the guys he’s training with, he’s kicking their asses and they’re kind of booty and they gave him a false sense of security but those guys he’s training with are not Aljamain Sterling, they’re not Merab Dvalishvili, so for him to really think that he was going to run through me, it’s a testament to his arrogance that I touched on going into this fight and a testament to the delusional world that he still lives in that he thinks the competition is the same.”
Dillashaw (17-5) lost control of his shoulder early in the opening round and was eventually pounded out midway through the second stanza. The damage was severe enough to warrant surgery, which is expected to keep the 37 year-old ex-champ sidelined until some point in late 2023 or beyond.
“I would gladly run it back and kick his ass again and double down,” Sterling continued. “If that’s what he really wants. I’m telling you, we were so dialed in and no two fights are the same, but I guarantee you, we will end up grappling at some point again, and if we do, if I take him down, and he ends up in a similar position where his butt hits the mat and he gives me an opportunity to advance to either his back or to solidify control from the top position, he’s going to end up in the exact same position and it’s going to be déjà vu and he would be taking another ass whooping all over again, which honestly doesn’t need to happen but if that’s what he wants. So 37 years old, going to have to do another year long [layoff with surgery] cause this is going to be his second one on his shoulder. If we fight again, it’s only going to be worse. That’s where I’m at.”
Before Sterling can worry about a potential Dillashaw rematch, he’ll first have to defend his 135-pound title against No. 1-ranked Sean O’Malley, who turned the division upside down with his bookie-busting upset over former bantamweight champion Petr Yan on the UFC 280 main card.
For much more on UFC 280 click here.