Aljamain Sterling unified the bantamweight titles with a split decision victory over Petr Yan in the UFC 273 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event last Sat. night (April 9, 2022) in Jacksonville, Fla., and just like the first time “Funk Master” defeated “No Mercy,” some MMA fans weren't happy about it.
Sterling, however, was all smiles.
Get to work, haters.
After the mildly controversial decision, which didn’t sit well with UFC President Dana White, a visibly befuddled Yan demanded an immediate rematch. While the promotion will undoubtedly book that trilogy somewhere down the line, Sterling sounds more motivated to fight former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who was shouting at “Funk Master” from cageside at UFC 273.
“He’s been a big critic,” Sterling told MMA Junkie. “The guy’s just been nonstop talking about me, talking about my heart, and this, that – the spirit of a fighter. If anyone’s mentally weak, it’s that guy. The guy needed steroids and EPO to catapult his career and even win as many fights as he did in the UFC. His whole UFC tenure is tainted. I can’t wait to punch him in the face. That would be someone I’d enjoy punching. He’s got good skills, but the guy’s a cheat. He’s dirty, and I’d like an opportunity to slap him up and we can figure out who’s No. 1 again.”
Dillashaw was forced to relinquish his title back in 2019 after getting popped for performance-enhancing drugs, then missed two years of action while serving his two-year suspension from combat sports. Upon his return, Dillashaw, now 36, captured a split decision victory over Cory Sandhagen to reclaim his spot in the 135-pound title picture.
“It’s an interesting fight, I think it’s a fun fight – the fans are going to have a good time watching that one,” Sterling continued. “I think he’s a little small for the weight, and I think I get on his back like that, I think that guy gets out of there. But if I drop those shots on T.J.’s little head, though, I don’t think he’s taking it the way Yan did in that second round. I do that to T.J., I think I get a finish and stop that fight.”
For more on Sterling’s UFC 273 victory over Yan click here.