Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight champions Aljamain Sterling and TJ Dillashaw will clash this weekend (Saturday October 22, 2022) at UFC 280 inside the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. , United Arab Emirates.
Sterling silenced a lot of people with his first title defense. The end of Petr Yan’s first fight left a sour taste in the mouths of the wider mixed martial arts (MMA) world, and Sterling bore the brunt of that loathing. Then he stormed out to show off his expertise, wisely outmaneuvering Yan to clearly establish himself as the best bantamweight on the planet right now (even though it was still a close decision). Meanwhile, it’s hard to be overconfident in Dillashaw, who has won just one – and controversial – fight since his comeback. Still, the former bantamweight king has never lost his in-ring title, and if he’s still at the top of his game, he has a real shot at becoming champion for the third time.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Main wins: Petr Yan (UFC 273, UFC 259), Corey Sandhagen (UFC 250), Pedro Munhoz (UFC 238), Jimmie Rivera (UFC on ESPN 1), Renan Barao (UFC 214), Cody Stamann (UFC 238)
Key losses: Marlon Moraes (UFC Fight Night 123), Raphael Assuncao (UFC on FOX 23), Bryan Caraway (UFC Fight Night 88)
Keys to Victory: Sterling is a complete and astute mixed martial artist. The longtime wrestler has perfected the art of the backpack, proving to be both highly dangerous from this position and nearly impossible to pull off. On the feet, Sterling is high volume and crafty, ready to throw all kinds of strikes.
I’m of the opinion that removing Dillashaw won’t be a simple task (unless Dillashaw has slowed down considerably). Sterling might be able to handle a takedown or two at some point, but Dillashaw was never held down for more than a few seconds. Presumably, it’s also well-researched to avoid rear-end grip.
With that in mind, wrestling should be the secondary aspect of Sterling’s offense. He should still be shooting so he can fake takedowns and keep Dillashaw honest, but Sterling’s range advantage could be bigger and more effective here. He has the long jab and arsenal of varied kicks to give Dillashaw plenty of problems, and if Dillashaw has to close that extra distance, it will make takedowns easier.
Forcing Dillashaw to fight within range will help all aspects of his game.
Key wins: Cody Garbrandt (UFC 227, UFC 217), Cory Sandhagen (UFC Vegas 32), Renan Barao (UFC on FOX 16, UFC 173), Raphael Assuncao (UFC 200), John Lineker (UFC 207)
Key losses: Henry Cejudo (UFC on ESPN+1), Dominick Cruz (UFC Fight Night 81), Raphael Assuncao (UFC Fight Night 29)
Keys to Victory: A collegiate wrestler turned one of the best kickboxers in the division, Dillashaw is a truly physical force inside the Octagon. He smashes his opponents with strikes and kills, usually becoming more and more dangerous as the fights go on.
In this match, I’d like to see Dillashaw take a page from Yan’s playbook. Sure, “No Mercy” is technically winless (0-2) against Sterling, but even the most dedicated “Funkmaster” fans would agree that Yan was successful in both fights. Really, if Dillashaw can apply that same strategy without allowing any takedowns — a D-1 wrestling background means a lot — he just might get away with this one.
In both fights, Yan’s pressure tired Sterling. The champ handled it better in Game 2, but he still relied on his early successes and eliminations to win the day. If Dillashaw is able to press both positions consistently and work up and down the body with combinations, he will wear down Sterling and set himself up for late success. At some point, he might also be able to throw his own kills, as Bryan Caraway managed to beat Sterling with kills many years ago.
It’s a big title fight that’s hard to predict.
Sterling is now firmly established as the bantamweight champion. He’s already eliminated two members of the Top Five, and another is his teammate who won’t fight him! Sending Dillashaw goes a long way to securing his hold on the division, and it also solidifies Sterling’s place in the champion ranks. Dillashaw may not be loved, but he’s well-liked, so a win over him really means something.
Dillashaw, meanwhile, claims the title of greatest bantamweight of all time. His two-year layoff may have been self-inflicted, but for him to come back after all this time and capture the belt for a third time would be quite undeniably impressive. After all, Dillashaw won his first 135-pound title in 2014. Reclaiming that pedestal eight years later is almost unheard of, especially at the lower weight classes.
At UFC 280, Aljamain Sterling and TJ Dillashaw will square off for a 135-pound gold medal. Which man will be victorious?
remember that MMAmania.com will provide live, round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 280 fight card right herestarting with the first ESPNEWS/ESPN+ Online “Preliminaries” matches, which are due to start at 10 a.m. ET, then the rest of the undercard (also on ESPNEWS/ESPN+) at 12:00 p.m. ET, prior to the PPV main card start time at 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+ VPP.
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