Bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is not looking past his upcoming opponent in TJ Dillashaw, but he seems to already know who he wants next.
As it currently stands, the UFC‘s bantamweight division is arguably the deepest that the sport has to offer, with Sterling reigning supreme as champion after back-to-back fights with Petr Yan. While he is set to defend his belt against former champion TJ Dillashaw at UFC 280, there is a growing list of contenders forming right behind, with no clear, definitive answer as to who is next in line for the title.
Aljamain Sterling Calls His Shot
However, it is hard to ignore all of the great bantamweight fights that have been happening recently, with the winners standing out as potential next options, and more future fights to come.
Prior to one of these fights between 135lb contenders, UFC Vegas 60’s main event between Cory Sandhagen and Song Yadong, Sterling was asked who he thinks is going to be next for the winner of his fight with Dillashaw.
He made it clear that he is entirely focused on the task at hand, but feels like Marlon “Chito” Vera did enough to earn the title shot with his KO win over Dominick Cruz and would like to face him next, if he still has the belt.
“There’s a couple of wildcards,” Sterling said. “You’ve got Deiveson Figueiredo potentially coming up to 135. You’ve got Cejudo kinda waiting in the wings somewhere around there doing his thing.
“But I think for me, it comes down to the best matchup, the best performances, and I think right now Chito is definitely the frontrunner… After I get past TJ, because I don’t want to look past him, I get the job done, I think whoever has the best performance. It might be a Suga’ show, it might be a Chito show.”
Of course, Aljamain Sterling is making a reference to “Suga'” Sean O’Malley, who is set to face the biggest test of his career in Petr Yan. If O’Malley gets past Yan, he will almost certainly be next for the title, but if not, a fight with Vera also makes a ton of sense.
Who do you want to see Aljamain Sterling face next, if he beats TJ Dillashaw?