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‘He’s definitely not champion caliber’ - Dillashaw says Sterling is a ‘pretty easy fight’

Sounds like TJ Dillashaw is confident he’ll be wearing UFC gold again sometime in the near future.

In some respects former champion TJ Dillashaw’s road back to title contention has been a long one. Dillashaw may only have one fight under his belt since losing his chance at flyweight gold via a first round Henry Cejudo TKO but, thanks to a failed drug test and subsequent suspension, it’s been three years since he had a piece of UFC hardware around his waist.

Back in July of 2021, Dillashaw made his return to action, picking up a split decision over Cory Sandhagen. Earlier this month, after defeating Petr Yan to unify the title, bantamweight king Aljamain Sterling made it clear that Dillashaw was the man he wanted to face next inside the cage.

“TJ Dillashaw, yo, where the fuck you at? You’re next, bitch,” Sterling told Joe Rogan during his post-fight interview at UFC 273.

While Sterling has since talked about considering other options for the belt, including a fight with Jose Aldo, if he and Dillashaw are set to clash it sounds like the longtime Duane Ludwig trained fighter his brimming with confidence over the potential matchup.

“I’m not too worried about Sterling,” Dillashaw admitted in a recent interview with ESPN (transcript via MMAJunkie). “That callout, it’s a pretty easy fight for me to be honest.”

“He’s good, don’t get me wrong,” Dillashaw added, after suggesting that Sterling “wouldn’t be champ much longer.”

“He’s got some attributes. He wouldn’t be where he is without being good, but he’s definitely not champion caliber. The guys that I’ve fought already in the past (are) much better than he is, a lot more dangerous. There’s no danger fighting Sterling. Has he ever even knocked anyone out?

“I don’t know. I didn’t even look at his record. It’s a guy that you don’t have to be worried about. There’s no way he’s gonna be out-grappling me. His striking is straight pathetic, so yeah, I’m surprised that he is where he is, and stylistically it’s a great fight for me.”

Even if the fight does hit the mats, the 36-year-old Coloradoan doesn’t sound interested in the idea that Sterling might beat him there, telling ESPN that he’s prepared to “show skills that haven’t been shown to their fullest yet,” and that it’s “D-1 wrestling compared to his Division III.”

On a recent episode of his Weekly Scrap podcast, Sterling told fans he’s looking to return to action sometime in late August or early September—which would, once again, make more than year between fights for Dillashaw if he’s intent on getting back to gold.