Aljamain Sterling defeated Henry Cejudo via split decision in the headliner of the UFC 288 this Saturday night and retained his bantamweight division title. Again, he didn’t get respect from the fans, this time at the Prudential Center in Newark, who booed him after the fight, yet Aljo fulfilled his goal.
In other battles, we saw Belal Muhammad defeating injured Gilbert Burns; Yan Xiaonan was better than Jessica Andrade, and Movsar Evloev beat Diego Lopes to keep his record perfect.
In the main event, Sterling and Cejudo went back and forth throughout the whole fight, and in the end, the judges got a split decision, with two of them scoring 48-47 for the champion and one for Cejudo. Overall, it was a solid battle, with the two guys exchanging blows and trying to impose their own tempo inside the octagon.
The winner of Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo fight 👉🏼 Merab Dvalishvili! For stealing Sean O’Malley’s jacket! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 #UFC288 pic.twitter.com/L4Du9mNizC
— ⚜ WHO DAT Cool Breesy ⚜ (@Steve2duhO) May 7, 2023
Sterling was better in the first round, while Cejudo clearly won round number five, and all in between was a bit shady when it came to who was better. Cejudo was trying to be aggressive, while on the other side, Sterling couldn’t use the wrestling skills that often, yet he still managed to outsmart the former double-champion on a couple of occasions.
In certain moments, Cejudo faced ring rust, and Sterling cleverly took advantage of that, eventually making a difference.
After the battle, the champion confronted Sean O’Malley, his next challenger, with the two almost entering a brawl inside the octagon. It is expected to see these two facing one another in September.
As for Cejudo, he still isn’t sure about his future, and according to his words, he might not return following this loss.
Belal Muhammad was better than Gilbert Burns, securing his title shot against the winner of the Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington matchup. Muhammad was better after five rounds, with all three judges scoring in his favor, 50-45, 49-46, 49-46. This was the 9th consecutive victory for the Chicago-born, who has been one of the best in the division for a long time.
Belal Muhammad vs Gilbert Burns highlights from #UFC288 pic.twitter.com/MlGkznr0Bs
— AlAudhli العوذلي (@AAudhli) May 7, 2023
Burns tried to push his third bout in less than five months, which took a toll in the end, with him suffering a left arm injury during the third round. The Brazilian barely used it until the end of the battle but stayed on his feet until the final horn. Muhammad cleverly used that, not rushing at all, and collecting points on the scorecards while keeping the distance between himself and his rival.
Yan Xiaonan knocked out Jessica Andrade and immediately called out her compatriot from China, the current strawweight champion, Zhang Weili, whose schedule is clear. Xiaonan smashed Andrade at 1:20 of the first round, not giving the Brazilian a chance to get out of the flurry of punches she threw.
With everything suggesting that Weili and Xiaonan could meet until the end of the year, we could be witnessing another UFC spectacle in China, and everything is up to the organization to fill in the roster and organize the event.
In the end, we will mention Movsar Evloev, who defeated Diego Lopes via unanimous decision, keeping his perfect record, now reaching 17 wins. He became one of the top featherweights in the division and could end up in title talks soon.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.
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