Who will be next for UFC champ Aljamain Sterling?

Feb 17, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Jimmie Rivera (red gloves) and Aljamain Sterling (blue gloves) fight during their bantamweight bout during UFC Fight Night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Sterling won via unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Back at UFC 273, Aljamain Sterling (21-3) got to shut a lot of people up. The Funk Master was taking on interim champion Petr Yan (16-3) and he was looking to defend his title for the first time.

Now, the public had a bad perception of Sterling due to the way he won the title. Sterling was awarded the title by DQ after he took an illegal knee from Petr Yan in their first fight. Worth noting that Yan was dominating the second half of their first fight.

When the rematch took place, many expected Yan to win. I was one of the people who expected him to. However, Sterling put on a grappling clinic in the first half of the fight and bagged the rounds needed to win a close split decision.

Say what you want, but there is no denying Sterling’s title reign now. With that, the UFC has been pondering who will be next for The Funk Master. Currently, there are two leading candidates for the spot.

Who will the UFC pick?

Let’s start with the leading candidate to take on Aljamain Sterling. The leading candidate is former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw (17-4). Dillashaw was forced to surrender the bantamweight title after he tested positive for EPO after his flyweight title loss to Henry Cejudo.

Dillashaw had a two-year suspension that he returned from last year. In his UFC return, he defeated Cory Sandhagen in a very close fight. The win put Dillashaw right back in the mix and considering the fact that he never lost the title inside the octagon, he still considers that to be his belt.

The other candidate for the UFC is Jose Aldo (31-7). Aldo fought Petr Yan for the vacant title back in 2020 after Henry Cejudo retired. Aldo was stopped in the fifth round by the former champion.

However, he’s bounced back incredibly strong and now he’s won three in a row. Most recently he dominated Rob Font in a main event spot back in December. The All-Time UFC great is wanting a crack at the title given his winning streak.

Sterling appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience where he talked about the options. The Funk Master said, “I think the UFC knows who’s the money fight and who moves the needle. I don’t know if it’s Aldo who moves the needle. I know T.J. definitely moves the needle — you can ask USADA.”

If I had to guess, I would say that the UFC books him against Dillashaw. I still would like to see Aldo fight Dominick Cruz in a legacy fight and I think that fight makes sense if Dillashaw does get the shot.