UFC 280: Aljamain Sterling defends title with TKO stoppage of an injured T.J. Dillashaw

T.J. Dillashaw’s left shoulder was repeatedly popping out of the socket as he was preparing to challenge Aljamain Sterling at UFC 280 for the bantamweight title. His team even informed referee Marc Goddard of that in the dressing room for the fight so Goddard would be able to give Dillashaw’s coaches time to pop it in.

Sterling took Dillashaw down immediately and the shoulder popped out. It was all downhill from there for the former bantamweight champion.

Sterling pummeled Dillashaw and stopped him via strikes at 3:44 of the second to retain his title in the co-main event of UFC 280 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Both of Sterling’s successful title defenses were against former champions at 135. Dillashaw had two reigns on top and Petr Yan, who dropped a split decision early on the show to Sean O’Malley, had one.

Sterling wasn’t aware of the shoulder injury and didn’t know it had popped when he threw Dillashaw down seconds into the fight until his coaches alerted him.

“The guys alerted me and I had to ask, ‘Which one?’” Sterling said. “I had no idea [his shoulder had popped out]. I was in the zone. I knew he could get out and get back on top and do damage. That’s what he’s done in the past so I made sure to keep the pressure on and do what I needed to do.”

It was near-miraculous and showed next-level toughness that Dillashaw survived the round. He came out fighting with just his right in the second, hoping to land a big fight-changing shot. But it was a long shot made tougher by facing an outstanding and on-point champion.

“I apologize to the division [for holding it up] because it’s a stacked weight class, man,” Dillashaw said.

Sterling, though, was outstanding and would have likely beaten any of them on this night.

He mentioned several names he wanted next but seemed most focused on former champion Henry Cejudo.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 22: Aljamain Sterling reacts after his victory over TJ Dillashaw in their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 280 event at Etihad Arena on October 22, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Aljamain Sterling remains the UFC bantamweight champion after defeating T.J. Dillashaw. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)