TJ Dillashaw doesn’t believe Aljamain Sterling is a legitimate UFC champion.

‘The Funk Master’ has held the 135lb title since picking up a win over Petr Yan via disqualification at UFC 259 in March.

Sterling appeared to be on the verge of a KO/TKO loss before the Russian fighter hit him with an illegal knee. The 32-year-old was unable to continue and ultimately declared the champion by default.

During a recent interview with Submission Radio, Dillashaw expressed his belief that the referee was right to disqualify Yan but he also stated that Sterling is “crazy” to consider himself a true UFC champion.

“I mean he did… that was an illegal knee, but it’s just so hard to accept the belt that way though, right? It’s so hard to be the champion. And maybe I can accept it if it wasn’t a title fight,” Dillashaw said. “Yeah, you get to win, right? But to say you’re a champion off a disqualification is just crazy. I do say that Yan deserved to lose the fight, cause he did something blatantly illegal. But nah, I wouldn’t say that in my mind Sterling is the champion.”

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Dillashaw is worried about how Sterling’s recent neck surgery will impact his performances.  

“I think Yan’s gonna build a lot more confidence and I think it’s gonna mess with Sterling’s head to see how bad he really got punked, that his wrestling didn’t work at all,” Dillashaw said. And then the surgery he got done, man, I’m really questioning if he’s ever going to really come back to his full stability. That’s a legit surgery. He went and got his disc replaced in his neck. I mean, I don’t even know if he can ever really be [the same]. I mean, we’ll see. I’m not a doctor, but I think that’s something I would have rolled with a little bit longer and got some defenses under my belt and try to make that cash while he can, cause I don’t know man. I just don’t know how he’s going to come back from that.

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Even without the surgery, Dillashaw thinks Yan simply has Sterling’s number and will dethrone him at UFC 267.

“But even just the way the first fight played out. I just think Yan’s got his number,” Dillashaw stated.  “Aljamain just doesn’t have enough striking depth or danger to threaten Yan with strikes to set up his takedowns, right? Like, these guys that Sterling’s been able to beat, he’s been desperately been able to get in on them and they freak out. But Yan was able to really keep his composure and not get overly aggressive and kind of play out Sterling in the first couple of rounds, let him gas out, and then just started punking him. So, I think with that being said, it’s going to be a little bit more of the same. Maybe just a little bit sooner even.”

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Do you agree with TJ Dillashaw? Is Aljamain Sterling “crazy” if he considers himself a true champion?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.