Aljamain Sterling expects to know more about his next title defense within a few days, and the reigning UFC bantamweight champion has narrowed down the list of possible opponents.
The names most likely to be given consideration are T.J. Dillashaw and Jose Aldo. Sterling isn’t sure who will actually get the nod, although he expects the UFC already has an idea in mind.
“I think [the UFC] knows who’s the money fight and who moves the needle,” Sterling said on The Joe Rogan podcast. “I don’t know if it’s Aldo who moves the needle. T.J. is the one who moves the needle, I’m sure. You can contact USADA. Then Cejudo, so there’s options.”
The sideways attack on Dillashaw is coming after Dillashaw, an ex-bantamweight champ, spent two years off the sidelines following his suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Dillashaw was tested positive for Recombinant Human Erythropoietin (or EPO) in connection to his fight with Henry Cejudo. He lost the first round knockout.
Since coming back from suspension, Dillashaw picked up a razor-close split decision win over Cory Sandhagen that seemingly put him into position to fight for the title again, although Cejudo’s return from retirement and Aldo’s current win streak could work against that.
Sterling is aware that he won’t have the ability to call his shot. He can speak only to fights that are most important to him and can’t help but to mention which one would be his hardest.
” If I have to be truthful, and if all I want is to fight, which would you choose to leave a lasting legacy for me? I think T.J. or Aldo in terms of like, ‘I fought this guy.'” Sterling explained. “Even a [Dominick] Cruz.
“For some reason, I feel like the hardest fight out of all of them is Aldo.”
Aldo has been banging the drum for a shot ever since Sterling defeated Petr Yan in March, which solidified his position as the best bantamweight in the sport.
Aldo has a winning streak of three fights that includes victories over Rob Font, Marlon Vera and Marlon Manzano. This puts him near the top at 135 pound.
Sterling is not afraid to face any opponent the UFC offers him. However, if Aldo really wants to be brutally honest about his views on choosing and picking opponents, he might consider Aldo a second choice.
“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.”
While many fighters constantly tout the desire to always face the toughest competition possible, Sterling would rather be truthful about pursuing the easiest path to remaining champion and earning the biggest paycheck along the way.
“Because that’s f****** stupid,” Sterling said. These guys are just so dumb. This irritates me. I’m an honest guy. It would be my goal to choose the fight I believe I will have an easier time fighting and retain that belt. I’m trying to cash out. I’m trying to get paid. You’re not in this position all the time.”
Sterling isn’t aware of Petr Yan right now, as he recently fought in back-toback fights.
Sterling admits Yan will be drawn again in the near future but would rather concentrate on a different contest for now.
“I don’t want to fight him again right now,” Sterling said. “I had to think about this guy for almost 24 months. I’d like to see a different face. I feel like we’re married. At this moment, it’s almost like we are in a bad relationship .”
When it comes to timing, Sterling expects a late summer or early fall fight on pay-per-view, with hopes that he’ll receive an official offer very soon.
” Probably September,” Sterling said. “I think that’s the next Vegas card. I’m suppose to find out who the next man is either today or tomorrow. So what I am going to do? That information will be released as soon as possible, but it will also appear on my podcast .”