T.J. Dillashaw believes Petr Yan will retain his bantamweight crown against Aljamain Sterling, but he also says the challenger has a style that could cause problems for the reigning champion.
The former UFC bantamweight champion gave his assessment of the UFC 259 title bout during an appearance on “The Real Quick with Mike Swick” podcast.
“I think it’s a tough fight for Yan because of the style of the fighter. I think Yan’s the better, well-rounded fighter. He’s got more of the skills and more aspects of fighting. But Sterling’s wrestling is very aggressive,” Dillashaw said.
“[Sterling’s] striking is real uncomfortable. He doesn’t really set anything up – he just kind of bombs kicks non-stop, kind of got that distance. But then he can grab a hold of you. He’s got great wrestling and his jiu-jitsu is amazing, too. I watched him take [Cory] Sandhagen out in 45 seconds. We watched him do a lot of great grappling in some of his fights. So I think it’ll be a tough fight because I do think Yan, maybe his biggest weakness is his wrestling.”
Dillashaw is elibible to return to the Octagon after serving a two-year USADA suspension for EPO. Dillashaw has been a popular callout since regaining his elibility, and he could be targeted by Yan if the Russian is victorious at UFC 259. Although Dillashaw favors Yan, he believes the champion can’t look past Sterling.
“He lost in the past to a guy that’s in Bellator just by getting outwrestled, so we’ll see the gains he’s made in his MMA wrestling,” Dillashaw said. “I would still probably put my money on Yan just because he’s a little more well-rounded, structurally and , on the feet. I think he’ll be able to keep the distance good enough. But you can’t underestimate a tough-nosed wrestler. So he can’t be counting his chickens before they hatch because he’s trying to call me out, but he’s got to get past Sterling and stay on top.”
UFC 259 takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and is headlined by a light heavyweight championship clash between Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya. The main ever airs on pay-per-view via ESPN+.
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