Aljamain Sterling defended his UFC bantamweight title last month with a one-sided beatdown of former champion T.J. Dillashaw. The bout, which served as co-main for UFC 280, ended when Dillashaw could no longer defend himself due to a dislocated shoulder — an injury that hampered him for much of the contest.
Immediately after the fight Dillashaw revealed that he had struggled with his shoulder throughout camp, suffering many dislocations. He also said that he decided to fight injured because he didn’t want to sink the entire card.
Dillashaw’s admission has been met with shock from some quarters, with many questioning what use athletic commissions are if they can not detect serious injuries fighters may be carrying into fights. Sterling, it seems, is less shocked about the claim and is instead angered over what went down.
“He legitimately came into this fight and went through his training camp thinking I was going to be an easy fight with one arm or one arm that compromised in terms of grappling,” Sterling said (ht MMA Fighting). “If he either took a shot and I sprawled, his shoulder would have came out the socket or if he posted on his arm, it would come out the socket.
“So for him to go through a training camp, either the guys he’s training with, he’s kicking their asses and they’re kind of booty and they gave him a false sense of security but those guys he’s training with are not Aljamain Sterling, they’re not Merab Dvalishvili so for him to really think that he was going to run through me, it’s a testament to his arrogance that I touched on going into this fight and a testament to the delusional world that he still lives in that he thinks the competition is the same.”
Sterling then admitted that he had done the exact same thing as Dillashaw earlier in his career.
“My first seven fights before I got my shoulder surgery, the same thing happened in training. I still took the risk to get in the fights and luckily they went my way but had I lost, I couldn’t come out and say ‘well my shoulder!’ It wasn’t an issue all these other fights but now it’s an issue?”
Sterling continued to say that he felt that Dillashaw, in disclosing his injury, was trying to discredit his win. He compared this situation to his first fight with Petr Yan, a fight he won via disqualification stemming from an illegal knee thrown by Yan.
“I got my ass kicked for half of the fight with Petr Yan and I said the better man showed up today and did his job. ... Took it on the chin, took it like a man, took my ass whooping like a man as well. When he comes out and says shit like that it’s like you had the built in excuse the entire time.”
Sterling said he’d “gladly” give Dillashaw a rematch when his opponent is fully healthy.
“If I’m being honest, it would be me saying easy money. ... Literally easy money. It’s no disrespect to him but I don’t think he’s the same guy as he was before and I think my skill set, my size and my strength is just going to overpower him.
“So 37 years old, going to have to do another year long [layoff with surgery] cause this is going to be his second one on his shoulder. If we fight again, it’s only going to be worse. That’s where I’m at.”
The win over Dillashaw was Sterling’s second title defence. His first was against Yan, which he won by split decision, a year after taking the belt from Yan in the fight that ended in a DQ. For Dillashaw this was only his second fight back after a two-year suspension from USADA for testing positive for EPO.