Ray Longo wants to keep TJ Dillashaw accountable. Aljamain Sterling’s coach is not buying into Dillashaw’s comeback story ahead of a Sterling vs. Dillashaw for the UFC bantamweight championship at UFC 280.
Dillashaw relinquished the UFC bantamweight title in March 2019 and was suspended for two years after testing positive for EPO, a performance-enhancing drug famously used by cyclists at the Tour de France. Dillashaw apologized for his mistakes and passed his drug tests in a comeback fight against Cory Sandhagen. Longo is not convinced that Dillashaw will enter the Octagon on Saturday as a clean athlete and says his past failures should not be easily forgotten.
“I think it’s a really worthy narrative because the guy’s a cheater. He’s a convicted cheater,” Longo told CBS Sports. “So what, are we just brushing it under the rug like it never happened? They come out with an alarm tomorrow on a new car, and they have already figured out how to break into it a day later.
“That’s pretty rotten in this sport. Like you’re purposely cheating. So if you don’t think that there’s a possibility that he got caught and he understands why he got caught and he didn’t fix that, then I think that would be a naive way of looking at it.”
Check out the full interview with Ray Longo below.
Dillashaw has repeatedly claimed that Sterling is using Dillashaw’s past discretions to pad the champion’s impending fall. He told “DC and RC” that Sterling is “building excuses of why I’m gonna beat him.”
It bears a minor resemblance to Mark Hunt’s fight against Brock Lesnar at UFC 200. Hunt repeatedly claimed that he would beat Lesnar despite the WWE superstar likely being juiced up. Lesnar defeated Hunt in a fight that was later overturned to a no-contest after Lesnar tested positive for a banned substance. Hunt subsequently went on a public campaign disparaging Lesnar and the UFC, unsuccessfully suing both parties and company president Dana White.
Longo praises Sterling for speaking his mind and keeping Dillashaw accountable, but he has no doubt in his mind that Sterling will own up to defeat should Dillashaw emerge victorious at UFC 280.
“I guarantee you one thing: if Aljo lose that fight, he’s not bringing that up. He’s not going to do what Mark Hunt did,” Longo said. “I would find that hard to believe. But I think it’s a worthy narrative just to maybe prevent other people from doing it in the future. And I feel like [Sterling] is doing the right thing. He has to do that to highlight [how] this is what goes on sometimes in the sport and it’s not right, period.”
That outcome is a fantasy scenario as far as Longo is concerned. Sterling’s longtime coach is confident that his fighter will remain champion. Dillashaw has only fought once in 33 months, taking a split decision over Sandhagen. It was an impressive return for the former champ, but Longo did not see any evidence to suggest Dillashaw is elevating his game. At best, Dillashaw is stagnant.
“What I like about this fight is that TJ has technically been inactive,” Longo said. “We’re hoping he’s off the sauce. I mean, I don’t even probably believe he is but we’re hoping he curtailed it a little bit. He’s not getting better, that’s for damn sure.
“I think we got him at the right time.”