Over a year after he made a successful return from suspension against Cory Sandhagen in the UFC Vegas 32 headliner, two-time 135-pound titleholder Dillashaw is set for his shot at championship redemption.
In Abu Dhabi this weekend, the Californian 36-year-old will challenge reigning divisional king Sterling, who’s held the belt since a disqualification win last March and since defended it in a rematch with Petr Yan.
The opportunity to regain his place on the throne from which a positive test for EPO ousted him from in 2019 is one that not many would have expected at the time. But having arrived at it, Dillashaw will look to direct attention on his career back to his legacy inside the cage.
And according to one fellow former champion, he can do that by securing bantamweight GOAT status at UFC 280.
Cormier Tells Dillashaw: ‘You Can Eliminate All GOAT Doubt’
Ahead of his long-awaited collision with Sterling, Dillashaw made an appearance on ESPN MMA’s DC & RC show, during which he spoke with former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
Towards the end of the interview, “DC” recalled Dillashaw’s first title victory, which saw him end the 33-fight unbeaten streak of Renan Barão at UFC 173. The bantamweight headliner was preceded by Cormier’s submission victory over Dan Henderson in the co-main event.
Having witnessed that moment firsthand, as well as Dillashaw’s successful career since, Cormier told the #2-ranked 135lber that he can cement his place as the greatest of all time by becoming the division’s first-ever three-time titleholder this Saturday.
“You know TJ, I remember when you won the belt the first time. We shared a card together, you and I,” Cormier said. “Nobody thought that you could do what you did to Renan Barão at that time, and you have truly turned out to be one of the greatest bantamweights of all time.
“Train hard, my friend, train smart over there in Abu Dhabi. I will see you next week as you try to become a three-time UFC bantamweight champion. A lot of times, people call you one 1B to Dominick Cruz‘s 1A. You win this championship again, I think that there will be no question as to who is the greatest bantamweight of all time,” Cormier added.
Dillashaw has appeared immensely confident about his chances of dethroning “Funk Master” at UFC 280. As well as labeling the champ’s striking as “embarrassing,” the veteran bantamweight has branded ongoing talk of his past drug indiscretion as Sterling preparing an excuse for a defeat.
He’ll look to harness that self-belief into a positive performance on October 22, and one that will write his name into the history books once more.
Will a victory over Aljamain Sterling at UFC 280 cement TJ Dillashaw as the greatest bantamweight of all time?
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