In a fiery exchange on stage at Thursday’s UFC 280 pre-fight press conference, Aljamain Sterling lobbed another accusatory grenade at Dillashaw about potentially trying to gain an illegal advantage ahead of their battle for Sterling’s 135-pound title on Saturday. The co-main event clash will be Dillashaw’s second bout back after he faced a two-year suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency after he admitted to using EPO (recombinant human erythropoietin) ahead of a fight against Henry Cejudo in 2019.
“Actually, I’ve got a couple questions,” Sterling said when addressing the crowd in Abu Dhabi. “So you guys are all familiar with the Embedded episodes. For some reason, I haven’t seen T.J. in any of the Embedded episodes.
“That’s how he got caught last time. I wonder if there’s something going on that it might be a little fishy, T.J.?”
Rather than defend himself against the accusations, Dillashaw responded with an interesting jab at Sterling as he seeks to reclaim the bantamweight title he was forced to surrender after his positive drug test and subsequent suspension.
“Look, I’ve come to terms with it,” Dillashaw said addressing his past. “It’s time now. You’re going to get your ass whooped by a cheater, motherf*****. He’s so worried he can come test me himself. He can test these nuts in his mouth.”
Dillashaw’s tirade continued as he blasted Sterling for his appearance on Thursday after the reigning UFC bantamweight champion showed up on stage wearing a slick purple suit.
“This DJ Jazzy Jeff-looking motherf***** is going to be down there saying ‘test, test 1-2, is this working,’” Dillashaw said. “He’s going to be a rapper supposedly. He’s already been a failed actor, now he’s going to be a failed rapper.”
As for Sterling, he still managed to take another stab at Dillashaw when he was asked about sitting next to Petr Yan, who he faced in back-to-back fights, with a chance for a trilogy if both are successful at UFC 280.
Sterling didn’t engage with Yan but instead he answered with another insult aimed at Dillashaw.
“Right now, I’m worried about ‘Mr. Needle-shaw’ right now,” Sterling said. “I’m not worried about [Yan]. He wins his fight, I win my fight, we’ll see what happens.”
Sterling’s accusations come just a day after former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz also questioned the legitimacy of Dillashaw’s claim that he’s already considered the greatest bantamweight of all time regardless of the results at UFC 280.
Cruz, who held bantamweight titles in both the UFC and WEC, pointed out that he’s never had issues with drug test results — something Dillashaw obviously can’t claim.
“When it comes down to it, I’ve never been in trouble with USADA,” Cruz said on The MMA Hour. “If there’s anything that you can look at that makes a difference, that makes a difference for other people.”
As for the fight happening on Saturday, Sterling continued talking to Dillashaw during their first official faceoff on stage.
Dillashaw stayed stoic and silent during the staredown as a small but vocal part of the crowd chanted “EPO” while the fighters were standing across from each other.