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Ricky Simon explains why he’s picking Aljamain Sterling to defeat ‘cheater’ T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280

UFC 258: Simon v Kelleher Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Ricky Simon is not a fan of T.J. Dillashaw, and he doesn’t believe the former champion will be able to recapture the title later this year.

A bantamweight title fight between champ Aljamain Sterling and Dillashaw is set for the co-main event of UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi in October, and when that fight ultimately happens, Simon — who picked up his fifth straight win at UFC Long Island this past weekend with a second-round submission of Jack Shore — is going with the champion to retain.

“I got ‘Aljo,’ honestly,” Simon said on The MMA Hour. “I don’t think clean juice T.J. can get it done. I think he’s getting old and I’m just so salty with that guy. I don’t like cheats, I don’t like how he’s at the top of the division. That’s someone I want to fight, as well. I match up [well] with any of these guys, but I think the wrestling and the physicality of ‘Aljo’ will be able to beat T.J., ultimately.

Dillashaw returned after a two-year USADA suspension and picked up a controversial split decision win over Cory Sandhagen in the main event of UFC Vegas 32 in July 2021. Dillashaw was suspended after testing positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) stemming from his failed bid to capture the flyweight title against Henry Cejudo in January 2019 and was subsequently stripped of his 135-pound championship.

Simon was asked his thoughts on Dillashaw getting a title shot after just one win following the lengthy suspension.

“He’s popular so I thought it would happen that way, and that fight with Sandhagen was sick,” Simon said. “It was a close one. But he’s ex-champ, he’s popular like that. It doesn’t seem right because he’s a cheater. But I get it, it’s a business and he’s still fighting, so if he’s winning, let him fight for the title, but I don’t think he’ll be around for much longer, that’s for sure.”

The 29-year-old Simon is hoping to climb the ranks and earn himself an opportunity to fight a Dillashaw, or someone in the top 10 sooner rather than later. But to get there, he’s going to do things the right way. The situation with Dillashaw from over three years ago still doesn’t sit right with him.

“I’m out here and my body hurts, too, but everyone wants a shortcut,” Simon explained. “I don’t know what it is about it, but it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t like that.

“USADA has come around and tested me, hit me up early in the morning, come late at night and I get tested all the time. I like it, because I feel like if this is happening, it’s better for the sport and my opponents are going to get tested like this too, so I’m up for it. But I just don’t like when guys try and take shortcuts like that because I’m tired, in there dying after practice in the sauna, in the ice bath, spending hours in hyperbaric therapy, doing all the recovery I can to make sure I can make it through these hard practices, and some guys want to cheat and take shortcuts.”

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