News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Aug. 10, 2022: Current Caribbean American bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling will make his second title defense against former champ T.J. Dillashaw on October 22nd. The fight was initially scheduled at UFC 279 (September 10th), but a rearranged schedule has pushed the bout to an already talent-filled Abu Dhabi card.
Sterling (17-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) has been the epitome of the term ‘champion spirit,’ after a lackluster 2-3 UFC record between 2016/17, the New York native took a U-turn in the octagon and ascended to the top of the 135l division. Controversially, Sterling obtained the UFC bantamweight title when Petr Yan was disqualified for landing an illegal strike. A UFC title changed hands for the first time in the company’s history because of a DQ.
“Everything I worked for to this point, and to have the fight go like that,” Sterling commented post-fight. “I thought the fight was very close; I thought I was down two rounds. That’s not the way I wanted to win. That’s not the way I envisioned this. I just took the belt off.”
Recurring neck problems stopped Sterling from giving Yan his immediate rematch. Yan defeated Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 for an interim title, thus, creating a guaranteed meeting and rematch with Sterling.
Despite overwhelming hate and criticism for obtaining the championship via DQ, Sterling silenced his doubters at UFC 273 on April 9, as “The Funk Master” earned a split-decision win over Yan to become the undisputed bantamweight champion.
Sterling is now riding a 7-fight win streak that has remained unblemished since 2018. Prior to his first title opportunity versus Yan, Sterling claimed a first-round submission stoppage over Sandhagen. Other victims of “The Funk Master” include Pedro Munhoz, Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, and Brett Johns.
The Empire State will fully support their local talent, as the Uniondale-born-and-raised fighter resident already owns the favorable betting position at sportsbooks across the sports betting capital of America. BetRivers sportsbook, New York, is supplying -155 odds on Sterling, with a comeback on Dillashaw at +130.
Public bettors have, however, shifted the opening line on Sterling, which was -220. Is this an indication of what’s to come? Or have the sharp bettors hammered a plus-money line on Dillashaw that’s too tempting to pass up?
Dillashaw (21-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) is the former two-time bantamweight champion. Successes over Renan Baráo in 2014 and Cody Garbrandt in 2018 were Dillashaw’s championship-winning moments, but a failed drug test would temporarily remove him from the sport.
A split-decision win over Sandhagen in July 2021 was Dillashaw’s returning fight after his two-year USADA suspension. With a promised title opportunity presented with his win over Sandhagen, Dillashaw has remained on the sidelines for another year and has finally received his chance to become the first-ever three-time UFC bantamweight champion.
Sterling took to his social media with the following comment: “Someone will be humbled! I will make the Iron Sheikie baby proud with a camel clutch! I break your back, then suplex you! There is no escape now, jabroni!”
UFC 280 takes place at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi; as always, the main card festivities will commence on PPV after the preliminary cards have aired on ESPN, ESPN+, and UFC Fight Pass.
Eleven fights have been made official for the UFC 280 main card and prelims; the excitement surrounding this card has been electric due to the household names that are scheduled to compete.
In the evening’s main event, Charles Oliveira will compete against Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight championship. Sterling and Dillashaw will take center stage for the co-main event, and top-ranked welterweight contenders Sean Brady and Belal Muhammad will lead the show before the marquee championship bouts take place.
In addition, famous up-and-coming star Sean O’Malley will face Petr Yan, a bantamweight war that will likely present the next championship contender for either Sterling or Dillashaw.
UFC 280 Main Card