The main event of UFC 288 took place in Newark, New Jersey, and featured a bantamweight championship fight between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo. Sterling won the fight by a split decision to keep his title and send Cejudo, a previous Ultimate Fighting Championship champion who won two different divisions, back into retirement.
During the intense fight that took place on Saturday evening, the judges gave Sterling the victory by scores of 48-47, 47-48, and 48-47.
The oddsmakers had Cejudo pegged as the favorite heading into the bout, despite the fact that he had been away from the Octagon for the previous three years.¯ǎ
Sterling was quoted as saying, “I wasn’t sure which way the decision was going to go.” “I wish I could have done a little bit better, but Henry is a [expletive] dog, he’s a legend, and it’s not an easy task to run through him like I did everybody else,” the speaker said.
He now has a record of 23-3, whereas Cejudo has a record of 16-2.
The 33-year-old Sterling landed a greater number of overall strikes than Cejudo, 174 to 110, including a 110-63 lead in hallmark strikes.
In 2021, Sterling claimed the championship at 135 pounds despite being handily defeated by Petr Yan. The fight was disqualified due to an illegal strike that Sterling committed throughout the fight. A rematch one year later saw him emerge victorious by way of a split decision, further establishing his legitimacy as a contender for the title.
Bantamweight challenger Sean O’Malley came into the cage after Sterling’s victory on Saturday, stripped off his jacket, and stood nose-to-nose with him as the two combatants launched into profanity-laced tirades against each other and finally needed to be removed. O’Malley was Sterling’s opponent in the next bout for the bantamweight title.
It is possible that they may play for the championship later on this summer. Sterling-O’Malley was supposed to fight in August in Boston, but UFC President Dana White wanted the bout to take place late at night in New Jersey instead.