Friday, December 2, 2022

Dillashaw: I Can Beat Sterling “Very Easily”

Despite being beaten at UFC 280, former two-time bantamweight titleholder TJ Dillashaw is confident that his fully fit self would have no issue dispatching reigning champion Aljamain Sterling.

At last Saturday’s pay-per-view, Dillashaw fell short of returning to the 135-pound throne, which he departed from in 2019 following a failed drugs test. One two-year suspension, a return victory, and a year-plus injury layoff later, the 36-year-old found himself back in the cage with gold on the line.

But despite showing immense confidence in the buildup, Dillashaw was quickly beaten in Abu Dhabi, with Sterling taking advantage of the challenger’s dislocated shoulder to record a second-round TKO victory.

Ahead of the contest, many believed that the matchup appeared competitive on paper. Those who followed that sentiment have since suggested that the fight would have played out a lot differently had Dillashaw not carried a shoulder injury into the event.

Not only is Dillashaw of the same view, but he’s gone one step further. According to the former two-time champ, there’s no doubt he could “very easily” beat Sterling at full fitness.

Dillashaw Hasn’t Let Defeat To Sterling Affect His Confidence

During a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, Dillashaw looked back at his failed title challenge on Yas Island.

While assessing his decision to fight through the injury, which many have since branded a mistake, Dillashaw claimed that he judged the threat Sterling posed on the feet, where he expected his shoulder to give him the most trouble.

Unsurprisingly, given his past dismissiveness of the champ’s striking, Dillashaw chose to proceed.

“I couldn’t throw my left arm, striking-wise. I was able to do some flick jabs and things. But my wrestling and my grappling was not hindered,” Dillashaw said. “Me thinking, ‘Look, what is this guy’s weapons? He’s gonna try to take me down and take my back. I’m golden, this is fine.’

“I’m fighting Sterling, he’s not a big threat on his feet. I felt it was best-case scenario for who I was going to fight. If I was fighting Petr Yan, I might have second-guessed going in there with a guy who was deadly, looking for that knockout,” Dillashaw added.

Having backed himself to outstrike Sterling with his injury, as well as handle his ground game, it perhaps comes as little surprise how Dillashaw thinks he’d fare against “Funk Master” at full health.

Not letting his confidence dwindle following his setback at UFC 280, Dillashaw claimed he could comfortably beat Sterling, who he suggested is certainly not the best in the division.

“Aljamain Sterling’s not the best guy in the weight class. I feel like many guys know that,” Dillashaw said. “It was a very awesome opportunity for me to get in there and have a guy I feel like I matched up with very well. It was a very winnable fight for me. There’s harder fights out there for me to get the belt back.

“It was such a sh*t situation because the opportunity was so good. Aljamain Sterling’s a guy that I can beat very easily. Obviously, I did not get a chance to show that, and I’m sorry for that for everyone, including myself.”

For Sterling, Dillashaw’s take will no doubt be seen as nonsense. Ever since his co-main event victory, the reigning bantamweight kingpin has repeatedly insisted that the result would have been the same no matter what.

What do you make of TJ Dillashaw’s claim? Could he beat Aljamain Sterling at full health?

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