clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Aljamain Sterling already made peace that he’ll be fighting a ‘souped up’ T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280

UFC 273 Ceremonial Weigh-in Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Aljamain Sterling has never been shy when asked about his feelings on cheating in mixed martial arts, especially when it comes to his next opponent T.J. Dillashaw.

The two-time UFC bantamweight champion was suspended for two years after he got busted using recombinant human erythropoietin — better known as EPO — following a knockout loss to Henry Cejudo back in 2019. In the wake of that suspension, Dillashaw admitted fault but maintains his innocence that he had never used performance enhancing drugs outside of that lone incident.

Sterling doesn’t buy that for a second, which is why he’s just accepted the fact that he’ll probably be going up against a chemically enhanced opponent at UFC 280.

“I already made peace with it that I’m going to be fighting a guy that’s more than likely — if there were odds I would say about 90 percent this guy is finding another way to cheat, even if it’s some type of microdosing or however that stuff works,” Sterling told The Fighter vs. The Writer. “He’s willing to put more time into that than just do things the right way.

“I already made peace with that, there’s a chance that I’m going to be fighting a guy that’s already souped up. I think a lot of guys I fought in the past have been on some s*** anyways so this isn’t going to be any different.”

If Sterling addressing Dillashaw’s past with the potential that he might cheat again seems like setting up excuses if he comes up short on Oct. 22, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, the 33-year-old champion has addressed his concerns about Dillashaw long before he was named the No. 1 contender in the division and it’s forced Sterling to work that much harder to ensure he can negate any advantages his opponent might have when they finally clash in the octagon.

“The only thing I have to worry about is to make sure my cardio is going to be more than extraordinary just so I can keep the pace,” Sterling explained. “Because I know this guy is a little weasel that’s going to find any way to get an advantage. He can say whatever he wants but he knows deep down inside how long he’s been doing all that cheating for and his teammates outed him.

“At the end of the day, it’s just going to be the better man that day and if he’s got to be the better man by using the supplements and all this other stuff, that’s on him. I know my hands are clean.”

For all the physical advantages that can be gained from performance enhancing drug use, Sterling also knows there’s a mental weakness that often times accompanies cheating.

It’s something that Sterling absolutely wants to expose when he faces Dillashaw with the bantamweight title going up for grabs.

“I think there’s some chink in the armor there,” Sterling said. “Some room for me to expose his shortcomings. I think mentally he’s going to have that in the back of his head. I think it also proves that you’re a little bit of a mental midget.

“If I can get into his head early on, I think he might self-destruct and make it an even easier night for me.”

In many ways, Sterling isn’t even sure that Dillashaw actually earned the opportunity to fight for the title based on his two-year suspension coupled with a controversial split decision win over Cory Sandhagen in his only fight since returning.

That said, Sterling still believes there’s a lot for him to gain against an established former champion like Dillashaw, who he wants to add to his resume as he attempts to secure a legacy as the best bantamweight of all-time.

“I don’t think he deserves to be rewarded with the championship pay opportunity after cheating and finally getting caught,” Sterling said. “Not just cheating this one time but finally getting caught from cheating. He’s getting what I think a great opportunity because win or lose, he gets paid a lot more than he would just fighting at a regular pay scale for a fight, even if it’s main event.

“I don’t think he’s the most deserving guy at this point of his career of what he’s done. Because of who TJ is, that’s really the more exciting part for me. I’ve watched TJ since the beginning of his career in the UFC, on The Ultimate Fighter. I’ve got to see the guy’s personality. I’ve got to meet him in person. I know the type of guy he is and the fact that after all these years, I’m finally getting an opportunity to compete against a guy like that shows me what I’ve done. Shows me I’ve become ‘the guy’ and the guy gets to take out the old guy. It’s the young lion meets the old lion and hopefully the young buck gets to take out the old head and show him there’s a new king in town.”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting