Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw has elaborated on shoulder injury which flared up during his recent title bid against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi.
Dillashaw, fighting for just the second time since early 2019, was obviously injured within the opening 30 seconds of the co-main event fight after his left shoulder came from its socket as he attempted to fend off a takedown attempt from champion Sterling. He was unable to mount any offence of note before the fight was stopped before the end of the second round, later apologising to the rest of the weight class for holding up the line, but as he elaborated to ESPN in an interview this week, the injury was something he has experienced on several prior occasions and he believed that it wouldn’t hamper him in the fight.
“I’ve fought like this before,” Dillashaw explained.
“I knocked out Cody Garbrandt twice with two blown-out shoulders. My shoulders were both dislocating for that Garbrandt fight. Before that first Garbrandt fight, I tore my left shoulder on The Ultimate Fighter doing the coaches challenge. We were playing tetherball on the balance beam, and I fell off and tried to catch myself and hurt my shoulder. In that fight camp, I dislocated my shoulder a good 10-15 times.
“It hurt and affected my grappling, but what was I going to do, not take the fight? I wanted to get my title back. Kind of the same situation I’m in now.
“Look, I believe I’m the best in the world, so I want to get my belt back and do these things before I go and get my body fixed. Because if you get your shoulder fixed, you’re out for a year and you’re never guaranteed to be back. … So this isn’t new. I’ve fought in this situation before. I needed surgery, but it was something I wasn’t willing to do yet. I’d think about that when I got my belt back.”
Dillashaw also commented on his post-fight apology, suggesting that he didn’t quite communicate his point as effectively as he had wished.
“The reason why I apologised to the weight class is because it’s so unfortunate,” he said. “I was really pissed off at the situation personally, but I can guarantee you there’s a lot of guys waiting in line to take that shot as well, too. So it wasn’t like I apologised because I did it on purpose.
“I apologised for the situation. I apologised that, this sucks. Aljamain Sterling is not the best guy in the weight class, and I feel like many guys know that. It was a very awesome opportunity. I feel like I matched up with him very well, it was a very winnable fight for me, I feel like there are harder fights out there for me to get the belt back, so it was an opportunity I wasn’t going to miss out on.”
You can watch the full interview with ESPN here.