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Sterling v Dillashaw fight preview & best bets – UFC 280

Aljamain Sterling vs TJ Dillashaw

Latest Odds & Fight Info

Main Event odds Sterling -188.68 at Bovada | Dillashaw +155 at Bovada
When Saturday, October 22 – main card from 10pm GST
Where Etihad Arena – Yas Island, United Arab Emirates
Watch Live ESPN+ PPV (US), BT Sport (UK), Main Event (AU)

The co-main event for UFC 280 pits a pair of polarising fighters – Aljamain Sterling and TJ Dillashaw – in a bout that will determine the future of the bantamweight division.

Aljamain Sterling (21-3-0) earned his bantamweight belt in highly controversial fashion. In March of 2021 he was being smashed across the octagon for four rounds by then-dominant champ Petr Yan when the Russian inadvertently landed an illegal knee to Sterling’s head. The UFC rules state that a grounded fighter cannot be kneed in this manner. Sterling then went into Hollywood mode, rolling around the canvas and acting like a man who had been grievously wounded. Ringside doctors reluctantly confirmed that Sterling could not safely continue, the ref waved the fight off, and he was presented with a hollow victory.

The inevitable rematch was a wholly different contest, and Sterling got the better of Yan via split decision. Sterling improved significantly in the second bout and had reportedly been carrying injuries into the first. He had also done his homework and was better prepared for Yan’s heavy strikes. He scored multiple takedowns and there was little doubt he had earned the win. It was Sterling’s seventh successive victory, and he has the potential to be remembered as a great champion of the division.

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Sterling has a strong wrestling background and boasts a black belt in BJJ. He should, therefore, have a big edge if this fight goes to the mat. His stand-up techniques are also world class, and he can prove an elusive and effective counter-striker. He is not a renowned KO artist but is well drilled by the Serra-Longo Fight Team and knows how to grind out a points victory when required. His best path to victory might include a combination of strikes and takedowns that tires Dillashaw and leaves the challenger susceptible to submission in the latter rounds.

TJ Dillashaw (18-4-0) is a controversial fighter who is loathed by many purists within the MMA community. Dillashaw is from a wealthy family, so has never had to endure the struggles faced of many other fighters. Beloved champions like Jose Aldo literally dragged themselves out of the slums via their single-minded dedication to martial arts and this type of back story is embraced by fight fans, while the narrative concerning a spoilt rich kid who fights for fun is of less appeal.

Dillashaw also had an acrimonious split with Team Alpha Male, where he was known to bully less experienced fighters during training sessions. This is considered a cardinal sin in MMA circles. He also has a PED strike against his name having tested positive to EPO following a failed foray into the flyweight division against Henry Cejudo. His former colleagues at Alpha Male were not surprised by his doping violation and fans have little patience for cheats.

Dillashaw’s first fight back from suspension was a questionable split decision win over Corey Sandhagen, and this title shot appears almost undeserved. Some 17 out of 23 media outlets covering the event believed Sandhagen had done enough to secure the nod. Given his high profile, mostly for the wrong reasons, Dillashaw may have been selected by Sterling as an opponent for financial reasons.

Pay-per-view numbers for this card are bound to be lucrative, and Sterling will be eyeing a hefty payday for his second title defence. MMA is a business, and fighters are well served capitalising on the opportunities it presents.

We are tipping Sterling to win this fight without undue exertion and retain his UFC belt. Dillashaw is 36 years old. He has fought only thrice since 2018. He did not appear championship worthy at his most recent outing, and we expect him to get exposed by the younger, fitter Sterling.

Aljamain Sterling to win


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