Aljamain Sterling successfully held on to his UFC bantamweight championship with a second-round TKO win over TJ Dillashaw in the co-main event of UFC 280 at Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates.
Aljo wasted not time in dragging the fight to his waters. He took down Dillashaw in the opening moments of the fight and seemingly injured the former champion's shoulder.
Sterling dominated the round going from mount to back control, threatening with rear-naked choke attempts and ground-and-pound throughout the round. When Dillashaw survived and went back to the corner it appeared his team was able to pop his shoulder back into place.
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TENSE SCENES. Dillashaw's corner popping his shoulder back into place between rounds! 😳<br><br>🖥️ Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UFC280?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UFC280</a> LIVE NOW on BT Sport Box Office! <a href="https://t.co/iYy3nXCfhE">pic.twitter.com/iYy3nXCfhE</a>
That was just a temporary solution, though, as the shoulder clearly was still bothering him, and he had no answer as Sterling simply bulldozed the challenger and drew the finish in the second round.
The win brings an added layer of credibility to Sterling as the champion of the bantamweight division. His reign as champion has been defined by his rivalry with Petr Yan. He first won the title on a controversial disqualification, which was followed by a split decision in the rematch.
Now, Sterling has won eight fights in a row and officially has his first title defense against someone not named Yan.
Yet another bout with Yan has already been raised, and Sterling was unwilling to engage too much with the idea in the lead-up to Saturday's fight.
"I’m worried about 'Mr. Needle-shaw' right now," Sterling told reporters when asked about his rival. “I’m not worried about [Yan]. He wins his fight, I win my fight, we’ll see what happens.”
Sterling was referring to Yan's main card matchup with Sean O'Malley. However, the Russian did not come up with a win, as O'Malley earned a split-decision victory over the former champion, thus generating a new possible matchup for the belt.
The UFC has other options as well. Marlon "Chito" Vera has been impressive lately and has a win over O'Malley. Merab Dvalishvili just beat José Aldo and has an eight-fight win streak.
Regardless of what the UFC does next, Sterling has proved he's the legitimate king of the bantamweight division.