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T.J. Dillashaw ‘100 percent’ was hoping to fight Jose Aldo in first title defense, predicts Petr Yan beats Sean O’Malley at UFC 280

Should T.J. Dillashaw make good on his prediction to defeat Aljamain Sterling to regain the bantamweight title at UFC 280, he knows he’ll be a very busy man in the future, but there’s one fight that he won’t likely get that he had hoped for.

Dillashaw will challenge Sterling for the title at Saturday’s event in Abu Dhabi in the co-main event. With a win, Dillashaw would have loved to defend his title against José Aldo. Unfortunately, that won’t happen as Aldo announced his retirement from the sport following his UFC 278 decision loss to Merab Dvalishvili.

“100 percent [I was] interested in that,” Dillashaw told MMA Fighting. “I’ve been a giant fan of José Aldo for a long time, a legend in the sport, and when I even decided to become a fighter when I graduated college, it was back in the WEC days when he was fighting Urijah Faber when I was in that camp. Just knowing José Aldo for a long time and the killer that he was, yeah, absolutely [I would’ve loved to fight him]. His career has been amazing.

“I definitely understand him wanting to step away. It’s been a long road, he ain’t no spring chicken no more, and neither am [I], and that’s why it’s so awesome to be on top for almost a whole decade.”

Ahead of his chance to become a three-time champ, Dillashaw has partnered with a company called DeleteMe and has become an advocate in helping people in the battle promoting the importance of online privacy, and protecting yourself and your family.

Prior to the bantamweight championship bout, another compelling 135-pound bout with high stakes will take place between former champion Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley. With potential title implications involved, it’s a result Dillashaw will be paying attention to as much as he can and expects Yan to win in a competitive matchup.

“I’m definitely picking Yan to win the fight, but O’Malley’s good,” Dillashaw explained. “He’s got good timing, his physical attributes, how long he is in the division, his timing, and just his creativity could give Yan some problems. I’m not counting the guy out, but from just what I’ve seen from Yan, but it’s only a three-round fight so he can’t just take a round off and let O’Malley outpoint him, but O’Malley didn’t really do that against Pedro Munhoz.

“Most likely, Yan will go out there, get it done, chop his legs out, be a little more aggressive and figure out his timing.”

Should Dillashaw defeat Sterling, there are a line of potential challengers lying in wait, such as Dvalishvili, and the surging Marlon Vera. Dillashaw laid out the options ahead of him, but is not looking past Saturday’s fight with Sterling by any means.

“Damn, man, we’ve got a killer weight class,” Dillashaw said. “You’ve got Yan, and I would love that fight because he looks like a killer, he likes to fight, I like his style, it would be a great matchup for me. You’ve got ‘Chito’ Vera — who I’m a huge fan of, I’m a friend of his — I really like the guy so I want to see him succeed as much as possible. I wouldn’t really want to have to fight him, but if it’s for the belt, we’re doing something great for each other.

“There’s Merab, he just beat Aldo. That’s a big statement piece. There’s a lot of guys who could be fighting for it, and they’re going to have some kind of contender fight to figure it out I’m sure.”

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