“He made a mistake, and he handled it like a man,” Dana White recently said in an interview with Barstool Sports speaking of TJ Dillashaw’s past suspension for PED use.
“I’ll tell you what, we’ve had a lot of guys in the history of this company who have been busted for steroids and handled it the exact opposite way. They handled it not like men. Dillashaw did. He took it on the chin. You’ve got to respect him for that.”
Do you though?
That’s the question Aljamain Sterling seems to have found himself asking at the UFC 280 press conference, after the disgraced former champion threw his own history of rule-breaking in the Serra-Longo fighter’s face.
“You’re gonna get your ass whipped by a cheater, motherf-cker,” Dillashaw quipped when Sterling brought up the lack of Dillashaw footage in recent embedded episodes. “He’s so worried about it, he can come test me himself. He can test these nuts in his mouth.”
Later on, media pressed Sterling about the UFC president’s praise for Dillashaw and how the fighter had comported himself when it came to owning up to his actions. The ‘Funk Master’ sounded not just a little confused by White’s kind words for his opponent.
“Very strange,” Sterling agreed, when asked how he found White’s comments. “Dana’s an interesting cat, man. I like Dana a lot, but some of the things, I just have to wonder—like, his reasoning, his rationale. You’re praising the guy who got caught, and saying that he ‘did it the right way,’ and ‘did it like a man.’ What about that was manly? The guy got caught, he didn’t come clean, Dana. I’m just—I don’t get it. And I think it’s a very odd thing to say.
Aljamain Sterling (@FunkmasterMMA) can't wrap his head around Dana White's "weird and odd" praise of T.J. Dillashaw's PED admission.#UFC280 | Full video: https://t.co/KybQEIFnqL pic.twitter.com/0IAgoesQz2— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) October 19, 2022
“There’s been so many people who have popped,” he continued, “and a lot of them have been real, legitimate tainted stuff. And I don’t get it. What makes this situation more like a ‘man’ versus anybody else? I really don’t understand. Unless you got caught red handed, you know you cheated, like, having the needle in your hand, knowing you’re about to do it, and you’re like ‘No I didn’t, no I didn’t.’ That’s different. But, saying that he’s ‘more of a man’, that’s a very weird and odd thing to say.”
For his part, Dillashaw has maintained that his PED use was a one-time thing, tied to his bid to challenge for the flyweight title against Henry Cejudo. A fight he would go on to lose by first round knockout. However, former training partners have long claimed that the former Team Alpha Male talent had a long history of doping, well before he was picked up by USADA.
UFC 280 goes down this Saturday, October 22nd at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The card is expected to be headlined by a lightweight title fight between former champion Charles Oliveira and top contender Islam Makhachev. Sterling vs. Dillashaw is set for the PPV co-main event.