UFC 280: T.J. Dillashaw Questions Aljo’s Reign, Has Eye on Yan-O’Malley

T.J. Dillashaw is fighting for UFC gold once again.

Dillashaw in 2022 is a very different figure than the one who twice captured the UFC bantamweight title, first in 2014 then again in 2018. A failed drug test due to EPO, which saw him stripped of the 135lb title, will do that.

After sitting out a full two years, Dillashaw returned to defeat Cory Sandhagen in July of 2021. He hasn’t fought since, but enters UFC 280 this Saturday prepared to bring about an end to the reign of Aljamain Sterling.

“Is it a reign? I don’t feel like the way he even got the belt— it kind of sucks. Even for himself,” Dillashaw questioned during this week’s media day in Abu Dhabi. “I don’t think he handled it very well. And then the way he squeaked that win out too, it’s pretty lackluster.”

Sterling, of course, has not hesitated to point to Dillashaw’s phyisque of evidence of continued PED use. The ex-champ dismissed it as an excuse.

“I’m suped up. I’m looking good. It’s just excuses, because he knows the guy standing across from him is going to knock his ass out, and it’s an easier way of swallowing a pill of getting your ass whipped by somebody who’s supposedly on some sauce.”

Shortly before Dillashaw goes up against Sterling for the title, what is expected to be a number one contender’s fight will play out between Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley. That’s a fight Dillashaw has his eye on, though he doesn’t care who he potentially fights down the line.

“No one in particular. They each have their benefits of fighting,” Dillashaw replied when asked who he would rather face off with. “I like Yan’s fighting style, he’s aggressive, he’s mean, comes at you. And then you got O’Malley, who does a good job promoting a fight. I think he’s done a very good job of what he’s done with his career, and I think people are underestimating his skill level as well too in this fight. I’m actually pretty interested in it. He’s got great range, he’s got good timing, he’s got just good natural ability. I do think Yan wins, but I think it’ll be a better fight [than anticipated]. And it’s a three round fight, and Yan starts slow. Maybe he’ll change that, but we’ll see.”

Watch the full UFC 280 media day appearance by T.J. Dillashaw above. The event takes place this Saturday, October 22, 2022 at the Eithad Arena in Abu Dhabi, UAE.