Aljamain Sterling has already made peace that he will fight an “inflated” TJ Dillashaw at UFC 280

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Aljamain Sterling has never been shy when asked about his thoughts on cheating in mixed martial arts, especially when it comes to his next opponent, TJ Dillashaw.

The two-time UFC bantamweight champion has been suspended for two years after being stopped using recombinant human erythropoietin – better known as EPO – following a knockout loss to Henry Cejudo in 2019. Following this suspension, Dillashaw admitted misconduct but maintains his innocence that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs outside of this isolated incident.

Sterling isn’t buying that for a second, which is why he’s just come to terms with the fact that he’ll likely face a chemically-enhanced opponent at UFC 280.

“I’ve already made peace with the fact that I’m going to fight a guy who more than likely – if there were any odds, I’d say about 90% that guy finds another way to cheat, even if it’s a type of microdosing or however this stuff works,” Sterling told The Fighter vs The Writer. “He’s willing to spend more time on it than just doing it the right way.

“I’m already at peace with it, there’s a chance I’m fighting a guy who’s already pumped up. I think a lot of guys I’ve fought with in the past have been on shit anyway, so it’s not going to be any different.

If Sterling addressing Dillashaw’s past with the potential that he could cheat again sounds like an excuse if he fails on Oct. 22, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, the 33-year-old champion addressed his concerns about Dillashaw long before he was named the division’s No. 1 contender and it has forced Sterling to work even harder to ensure he can undo all the advantages his opponent might have when they finally face off in the octagon.

“The only thing I have to worry about is making sure my cardio will be more than amazing so I can keep up the pace,” Sterling explained. “Because I know this guy is a little weasel who will find any way to gain an advantage.” He can say what he wants, but he knows deep down how long he’s been cheating and his teammates have exposed him.

“At the end of the day, he’ll just be the best man that day and if he’s got to be the best man using the supplements and all that other stuff, it’s on him. I know my hands are clean.

For all the physical benefits one can derive from using performance-enhancing drugs, Sterling also knows that there is a mental weakness that often accompanies cheating.

It’s something Sterling definitely wants to put on display when he takes on Dillashaw with the bantamweight title up for grabs.

“I think there’s a rift in the armor there,” Sterling said. “A little room for me to expose its faults. I think mentally, he’s going to have that in mind. I think it also proves that you’re a little mental dwarf.

“If I can get inside his head early on, I think he might self-destruct and make the night even easier for me.”

In many ways, Sterling isn’t even sure Dillashaw has actually earned the opportunity to fight for the title due to his two-year suspension coupled with a controversial split decision win over Cory Sandhagen in his only fight since. his return.

That said, Sterling still believes he has a lot to gain against an established former champion like Dillashaw, who he wants to add to his resume as he tries to secure a legacy as the greatest bantamweight of all. time.

“I don’t think he deserves to be rewarded with the opportunity to pay the championship after cheating and eventually getting caught,” Sterling said. “Not just cheating this time around but finally getting caught for cheating. He gets what I think is a great opportunity because win or lose he gets paid a lot more than he would fighting at a normal pay scale for a fight, even if it is a main event.

“I don’t think he’s the most deserving guy at this point in his career of what he’s done. Because of who TJ is, that’s really the most exciting part for me. I have watched TJ since the start of his UFC career, on The ultimate fighter. I have to see the guy’s personality. I have to meet him in person. I know the type of guy he is and the fact that after all these years I finally have the opportunity to compete against a guy like him shows me what I’ve done. It shows me that I have become “the guy” and that the guy manages to get the old man out. It’s the young lion meeting the old lion and I hope the young buck can pull the old head out and show him that there’s a new king in town.

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