Former two-time UFC bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw thinks the man who is currently holding gold at 135lbs will retire without attempting to defend the belt.

Aljamain Sterling picked up UFC gold back in March 2021 at UFC 259 after an illegal knee strike from Petr Yan left him unable to continue and the Russian was disqualified from the bout.

Prior to winning the belt, Sterling put together a five-fight streak to earn his shot at the streaking Russian fighter. The 32-year-old beat the likes of Cory Sandhagen, Pedro Munhoz, and Jimmie Rivera on his way to the top.

Post-fight, Sterling underwent surgery on a neck issue. ‘The Funk Master’ was then booked to face off against Yan for the second time at UFC 267 on October 30 at the Etihad Arena. However, Sterling was still having lingering issues related to the surgery and withdrew from the fight. Yan will now face Cory Sandhagen for the interim bantamweight title later this month.

During a recent appearance on MMA Fighting’s MMA Hour, Dillashaw explained why he thinks we will see either Yan or Sandhagen upgraded to the undisputed champion in the near future.

“I don’t even know if Aljo’s ever going to come back to be honest,” Dillashaw said. “From what he had done, it’s kind of crazy. If I was him, I would have waited to get that done. My coaches, my strength and conditioning coach as well as my wrestling coach, sells the medical equipment that did his neck, don’t believe he’s ever going to come back.

“I think he’s just holding onto this belt as long as he can. I’ve had that feeling already so when he pulled out of the fight, I wasn’t surprised. I bet he’s dealing with nerve damage. I bet he’s dealing with a lot of stuff. You go get your neck cranked on with what he’s had done, it’s definitely not good. We’ll see. I could be completely wrong but I don’t know if he’s ever going to come back.”

Do you think TJ Dillashaw could be right? Will Aljamain Sterling retire without attempting to defend his bantamweight title?

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.