- TJ Dillashaw shared his honest take on Aljamain Sterling’s game
- The former champ revealed his take on Sterling vs. Yan 2
- The 36-year-old names his target opponents
As he prepares for his long-awaited UFC return, TJ Dillashaw spoke candidly about what he thinks of Aljamain Sterling’s fighting style. Unsurprisingly, Dillashaw stressed that he sees a lot of holes in the reigning champion’s game, especially in a standup fight.
The champ is “scared to fight”
In a recent interview with ESPN MMA, Dillashaw was quizzed to reveal how he thinks he would fair against Sterling. According to the former bantamweight champion, there’s really no danger in fighting “Funk Master” and he is confident he’ll do easy work on him.
“No. I don’t,” Dillashaw replied when asked if he thinks Sterling will a difficult fight. “I think it’s gonna be real good. Congratulations to him in implementing his game plan in the fight and showed some weaknesses in [Petr] Yan. But I mean that stylistically that fight is perfect for me. So he can say anything he wants but he ain’t gonna be champion for much longer.”
“He’s good,” he explained. “Don’t get me wrong. He’s got some attributes. He wouldn’t be where he’s at without being good. But he’s definitely not champion-caliber. The guys that I’ve fought already in the past, [were] much better than he is, a lot more dangerous, like there’s no danger of fighting Sterling. I mean, he has already knocked me when I don’t even know. I look at his record, it’s a guy that you don’t really worry about.”
Dillashaw went on and reckoned that Sterling won’t be able to beat him on the ground and all the more on the feet.
“There’s no way he’s gonna be outgrappling me, his striking is straight pathetic so I’m surprised that he is where he is,” he assessed.
“He’s scared,” he added. “He’s not a true fighter. He’s scared to fight. He’s scared to throw down… he doesn’t pack a punch and he’s desperate for them takedowns they’re ugly takedowns but he’s able to continue that pressure to get him.”
Yan did a poor job on his back
Dillashaw was rooting for Yan in the rematch. However, he admitted that he was shocked by how poor the Russian performed on the ground, which evidently resulted to his defeat.
“Most of us thought Yan was going to win that fight,” Dillashaw said. “The way the first fight went down and how he defended his shots and ended up manhandling him towards the end of the fight, I think that was Yan’s game plan once again but those two takedowns that he got out of 22, he gave up his back and I was very surprised with the lack of knowledge that Yan had in that position. Being a world champion, also training for a guy that you know is good on your back, going the wrong way on the body triangle and the chokes, not fighting it the right way, I mean, there’s no way someone’s staying on my back like that. You can’t have holes in your game and call yourself a mess.”
“An exciting 2023”
For sure, Dillashaw will try and reclaim his bantamweight title as soon as he gets back. As early as now, the 36-year-old already has a list of possible title contenders which includes former champions Henry Cejudo and Jose Aldo.
“All the chips are lying down perfectly right now,” he stated. “Get my belt back from Sterling, I got [Henry] Cejudo supposedly saying he’s coming back right? Who knows if he’s going 45s or 35s. That would be one that I’d love to get back and then we got Jose Aldo right? A guy that I looked up to when I first got into this sport. Kind of dreamed of fighting [him].”
“I got some good options to defend that belt once I get it,” he continued. “It’s gonna be an exciting 2023.”
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As it stands, Yan is expecting an immediate rematch with Sterling, but UFC president Dana White already said that Dillashaw is likely to be the next 135-pound title contender.