Thursday, December 8, 2022

Dillashaw Theorizes Why Sterling Keeps Discussing PEDs

UFC bantamweight contender TJ Dillashaw believes there’s a reason why divisional king and upcoming opponent Aljamain Sterling continues to berate his past drug infraction.

Next weekend at UFC 280, former two-time champion Dillashaw will look to dethrone Sterling in the Abu Dhabi-held pay-per-view’s co-main event. For the challenger, the October 22 card will represent the chance for him to regain the gold that he didn’t lose inside the Octagon.

Following a venture to flyweight in pursuit of champ-champ status in 2019, then-bantamweight titleholder Dillashaw tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) prior to his quick defeat to Henry Cejudo. In turn, he was stripped of the belt and banned from competition for two years.

Having made a successful return last July in the UFC Vegas 32 headliner, outpointing Cory Sandhagen across five rounds, Dillashaw returned straight back to the top of the division and secured his shot at redemption.

While some praised Dillashaw’s openness following his positive test and strive to return to the sport, others have continued to use the 36-year-old’s performance-enhancing drug usage as an insult. Many have even doubted that the Californian is totally clean.

That includes Sterling, who has repeatedly brought up Dillashaw’s suspension, from accusations of sweeping his rival’s use of PEDs under the carpet against the media to suggestions that he’s still searching for an advantage in some form.

Having been repeatedly labeled as terms such as “needleshaw” by the champ, Dillashaw has reached a conclusion on where Sterling’s animosity derives from.

Dillashaw: ‘Sterling Is Already Creating Excuses’

During a recent appearance on ESPN MMA’s DC & RC show, Dillashaw was asked for his thoughts on his upcoming opponent and the way that Sterling has gone about building their UFC 280 clash.

After noting that he looks to avoid holding grudges when he enters the Octagon, the #2-ranked bantamweight contender suggested that Sterling’s remarks are a way for the 135-pound kingpin to have a ready-built excuse should he lose the title on October 22.

“I try not to hold much ill will when I fight, man. I know I fight better when I’m just relaxed and having fun,” Dillashaw said. “I don’t hold a grudge or nothing. I feel he’s (Sterling) got to build something up. I think he’s already building excuses of why I’m gonna beat him, trying to play mental warfare, but it ain’t gonna work with me.”

At UFC 280, Sterling will be searching for the second successful defense of his title having proved his detractors wrong with a split decision win over Petr Yan this past March at UFC 273.

In the same vein, Dillashaw will look to deliver another blow to his own doubters by completing an unlikely return to the bantamweight throne in the Abu Dhabi heat.

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