Aljamain Sterling is looking at some former champions as options for his next title defense.
Fresh off of putting the rivalry with Petr Yan to the side for the time being after earning a split decision win at UFC 273 in April (watch highlights), Sterling expects a bout with T.J. Dillashaw could be in his immediate future. However, other names like Jose Aldo have also made their cases to be next in line.
Discussing the seemingly top two options, “The Funkmaster” is keeping things realistic.
“I think [the UFC] knows who’s the money fight and who moves the needle,” Sterling said on The Joe Rogan Experience (h/t MMA Fighting). “I don’t know if it’s Aldo who moves the needle. I know T.J. definitely moves the needle — you can ask USADA. Then Cejudo, so there’s options.
“If I’m going to be honest, if I just want to fight, like which one would be the best for my legacy? I think T.J. or Aldo in terms of like, ‘I fought this guy.’” he added. “Even a [Dominick] Cruz. For some reason, I feel like the hardest fight out of all of them is Aldo.”
Aldo, 35, has been a staple atop both divisions he’s fought in throughout his career at Bantamweight and Featherweight, where he held UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) gold. After his first crack at the 135-pound strap against the aforementioned Yan in July 2020, Aldo managed to get on a nice three-fight win streak.
Dillashaw, on the other hand, returned to action in July 2021 after a two-year suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The former two-time Bantamweight titleholder defeated Cory Sandhagen via split decision (watch highlights) and has since been rehabbing a knee injury sustained during that fight’s training camp.
“Right now if it was my choice, I mean I feel you’d want to pick the fighter you feel like you would definitely beat, right?” Sterling said. “For a title defense, I feel like you would want to do that so you could keep the belt as long as you can. Make some money.
“Because that’s f—king stupid [to pick the tougher guy],” he concluded. “These guys are so stupid. It annoys me. I’m an honest guy. I would want to pick the fight that I feel I would have the easier time with and keep that belt. I’m trying to cash out. I’m trying to get paid. You’re not in this position all the time.”