Sterling (20-3) returns to the action in April at UFC 273 to defend his 135-pound title against interim champion Petr Yan (16-2). The bout is a rematch of their March 2021 bout that ended with an illegal knee from the Russian and made Sterling the champion by disqualification. Inside the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena on Apr. 9, the controversy from the last fight will finally be dispelled and an undisputed bantamweight champion will be decided.
In the fight game, the question of what’s next is commonplace. Even when a fighter already has a fight lined up. It should come as no surprise that Sterling was recently asked by MMA reporter The Schmo who he believes could be his next opponent if he defeats Yan in a few weeks. Although “Funkmaster” offered up several suggestions, one name was a constant: TJ Dillashaw (17-4).
Aljamain Sterling suggests TJ Dillashaw could be next bantamweight title challenger
“The next guy in line, to me, could potentially be TJ fighting Jose Aldo,” Sterling said. “I think that would be a good one to make. If it’s not gonna happen that way, I do think TJ maybe against Dominick Cruz, or TJ could just be the next guy up. Either way, he’s got a big name. I still think he’s a little slimy cheater, no matter what.”
Dillashaw tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin on a USADA drug test following his 2019 loss to former two-division champion Henry Cejudo. He was subsequently suspended for two years after the failed test. Despite not failing a test before or since Sterling still believes Dillashaw could be using performance enhancers and finding ways to avoid detection.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still trying to find a way to get around the testing protocols,” he said. “People could say whatever they want, but if you want to cheat, and if you’ve got the resources to do it you can do it. A lot of these guys I think are still figuring out ways to bend the rules. But if TJ’s next, we’ll figure it out after Yan and I finally move past this chapter.”
Do you agree with the champ’s suggestions to help decide who should be the next contender to the winner of Sterling versus Yan?