Jose Aldo isn’t looking past his fight at UFC 278, but the former featherweight champion seems to have some thoughts on the next title fight at his current weight class.
Aldo is set to face Merab Dvalishvili on the main card of UFC 278 in Salt Lake City. Should the Brazilian emerge victorious, it would be his fourth straight win since losing a bid for the vacant 2020 bantamweight title to Petr Yan.
Yan then lost the title by disqualification in his first fight with Aljamain Sterling before losing a split decision in their rematch last April. Sterling is set to defend the title against former champion TJ Dillashaw at UFC 280, and Aldo has expressed doubts about Dillashaw’s chances of winning the belt for the third time. (h/t MMA Fighting)
“With no disrespect to TJ, he’s a great athlete, but I think his time is over,” Aldo told Canal Encarada. “These two years he stayed outside and did not test himself. I’ll say this, man, out [of] the fights, the doping situation, everything he built up, we don’t know what it was like, if it was really his body because, like it or not, when anti-doping became more strict, he received two punches and fell.
Aldo: Sterling is a big favorite
Dillashaw received a 2-year suspension from competition when he tested positive for EPO ahead of his 2019 loss to flyweight champion Henry Cejudo.
The 36-year-old served his suspension and won a split decision over Cory Sandhagen when he returned to action in July 2021, but many fighters and fans continued to comment on his drug test failure.
Bantamweights are arguably the most talented division in the UFC, but that didn’t stop Dillashaw from calling for an immediate title shot before his suspension expired. Even with a successful return to combat already on the books, Aldo believes the 36-year-old will fight as much as he will Sterling at UFC 280.
“It’s not the same when he fought and [doping] was more open. This, without a doubt, makes a huge difference. If he walks in there and tries to prove [himself] in his own head, he already starts with an opponent inside himself, to see if he can do the things he was doing before doping. So, for me, Sterling is a big favorite in this fight.
Although Aldo may be aiming for another bantamweight title shot, the Brazilian will have a tough test at UFC 278. After losing his first two UFC fights, Dvalishvili is now riding a 7-fight winning streak.
If ‘Junior’ impresses against Dvalishvili and Sterling defends his title against Dillashaw, it will be interesting to see how the champion reacts to the prospect of Aldo being his next challenger.
Do you think Aldo is right to favor Sterling to defend his title against Dillashaw?