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T.J. Dillashaw labels Aljamain Sterling an athlete ‘not a fighter,’ doesn’t see danger in match up

UFC 259: Yan v Sterling Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

T.J. Dillashaw doesn’t see the current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight champion as a very threatening opponent.

At UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Oct. 22, 2022, Dillashaw returns for the second time since he held UFC gold in Jan. 2019. In doing so, he aims to become only the second three-time titleholder in promotional history alongside Hall of Famer, Randy Couture, challenging Aljamain Sterling in the evening’s co-main event.

Assessing the match up today (Weds., July 27, 2022), Dillashaw reflected on Sterling’s two recent wins over the prior champion, Petr Yan.

“He won the fight,” Dillashaw told The MMA Hour. “The first one was kind of a s—tty way to win the belt, and the way he kind of handled it made himself really hated. But still, I don’t feel like he gained that much more respect for the fact that he’s not a dangerous fighter.

“He’s not someone you have to go out there and worry about getting finished or put to sleep,” he continued. “I’ve always known he’s great. He’s got some great skills in what he does. But to me, if I look at him, he’s not a fighter. He’s more of an athlete, which our sport is professional athletes, but we’re all fighters and want to go out there and get that finish.”

While Dillashaw is correct about Sterling’s finishing abilities on the feet, only having two career victories via strikes, the same can’t be said about “Funkmaster’s” ground game. The Serra-Longo product has scored submissions in eight of his 21 career victories with his most recent coming in dominant fashion against Dillashaw’s last opponent, Cory Sandhagen, at UFC 250 in June 2020.

An established wrestler himself who quickly became vaunted for his striking progression over time, it will be interesting to see how Dillashaw deals with the unique style Sterling will present him.


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