José Aldo isn’t looking past his fight at UFC 278, but the former featherweight champion appears to have some thoughts on the upcoming title bout in his current weight class.
Aldo is set to take on Merab Dvalishvili on the main card of UFC 278 in Salt Lake City. Should the Brazilian emerge victorious, it would be his fourth-straight win since losing a bid for the vacant bantamweight title in 2020 against Petr Yan.
Yan went on to lose the title via disqualification in his first fight with Aljamain Sterling before losing a split-decision in their rematch last April. Sterling is set to defend the title against former champion T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280, and Aldo has expressed some doubt over Dillashaw’s chances of capturing the belt for a third time. (h/t MMA Fighting)
“No disrespect to T.J., he’s a great athlete, but I think his time has gone,” Aldo told Canal Encarada. “These two years he stayed out and not testing himself. I’ll say this, man, outside [of] fighting, the doping situation, everything he’s built, we don’t know how it was, if it really was his body because, you like it or not, when anti-doping got more strict, he got punched twice and went down.”
Aldo: Sterling Is A Big Favorite
Dillashaw famously received a 2-year suspension from competition when he tested positive for EPO prior to his 2019 loss against flyweight champion Henry Cejudo.
The 36-year-old served his suspension and won a split-decision over Cory Sandhagen in his return to action in July 2021, but many fighters and fans have continued commenting on his failed drug test.
Bantamweight is arguably the UFC’s most talent-stacked division, but that didn’t stop Dillashaw from calling for an immediate title shot prior to his suspension ending. Even with a successful return to fighting already in the books, Aldo thinks that the 36-year-old will be battling himself as much as he will be Sterling at UFC 280.
“It’s not the same thing when he fought and [doping] was more open. That, no doubt, makes a huge difference. If he’s getting in there and trying to prove [himself] to his own head, he already starts with an opponent inside himself, to see if he can do the things he did before the doping. So, to me, Sterling is a big favorite in this fight.”
Although Aldo may have his sights set on another shot at the bantamweight title, the Brazilian will have a tough test at UFC 278. After losing his first two UFC bouts, Dvalishvili is now riding a 7-fight winning streak.
If “Junior” impresses against Dvalishvili and Sterling defends his title against Dillashaw, it will be interesting to see how the champion reacts to the prospect of Aldo being his next challenger.
Do you think Aldo is correct in favoring Sterling to defend his title against Dillashaw?