TJ Dillashaw thought he could outstrike Ajamain Sterling even with a dislocated shoulder.
TJ Dillashaw was betting on himself at UFC 280 to go out and regain his lost UFC bantamweight title. The problem was that he showed up compromised and was, therefore, shut down within two rounds by the champion Aljamain Sterling. After the fight, it was revealed that Dillashaw had been battling a shoulder injury throughout his training camp and suffered the same issue during the fight.
The fact that Dillashaw knew about the injury prior to the event and chose to compete anyway did not sit well with fans. Many believed that he should have dropped out of the fight and let a healthy contender step into the spot. Dillashaw was previously out of competition for two years serving a suspension for taking banned substances, he has only had one fight since returning prior to UFC 280 and did not want to be sidelined once again to get surgery.
Dillashaw defends his choice to compete through his injury
Following the loss, Dillashaw addressed his injury and sent out an apology to the rest of the bantamweight division who have been waiting months for him to take his title shot. Knowing that he was not 100 percent when he walked into the Octagon on Oct. 22, Dillashaw explain his mindset in continuing with the matchup and how despite the reoccurring issue he felt he was in a good position to win.
“I feel like the opportunity was too good to fight Aljamain. I don’t think he’s the best bantamweight in the division. It was a perfect way for me to get my belt back. And so just weighing out the options, like I said, I’m addicted to being on top and I thought I’d be able to go out there and get it done,” he said on The MMA Hour. “You know, after the fight I apologized to the weight class. I kind of said it, I didn’t plan on losing. I had the utmost belief I was going to win so I didn’t think about what I was going to say. I apologize to the weight class for holding it up. But I still expected myself to win.”
This was not the first time Dillashaw fought with this shoulder injury. He spoke about he had been dealing with this issue for a long time and has found success throughout the rehab. He said he fought Cody Garbrandt with the same issue. He felt that Sterling was less of a danger than Garbrandt was to him so he took his chance.
“It only affected my striking. I thought it’s a perfect matchup. I think Aljamain’s striking is hot garbage anyways, he’s not very dangerous,” he said. “I can go into this fight. I got plenty of stuff I could do. I mean, I fought with this injury before I won a world title with my shoulder like this. I defended my world title with the shoulder like this.”
Dillashaw will now go under the knife and get this issue resolved. He expects to be out for 6 to 7 months but looks to return to his prime shape and continue on his mission for gold.