UFC 288 features the championship bout for the bantamweight division. The current ruler, Aljamain Sterling, defends his belt against Henry Cejudo, one of the greatest names in the UFC. The stakes are high; on one side, Sterling’s belt and his reputation are at stake, while on the other, Cejudo’s legacy could be diminished following this event. That’s why you shouldn’t miss this contest. When it comes to odds, they are close, with the note that Cejudo has a slight edge among the bookmakers. We repeat a slight one.
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Aljamain Sterling (+105) is one of only a handful of champions in history who was widely reviled and questioned. The American champion’s title win and subsequent defenses were shrouded by controversy. Petr Yan demolished Aljo before his illegal knee to the head, and the American received the belt as a gift back then.
The second bout was a massive disappointment for the fans, who expected a brawl, yet got to see Sterling holding Yan on the mat without the intention to attack, just freezing the action. He eventually won via split decision, yet most fans didn’t consider him a true champion. After that, Sterling had a TKO victory over TJ Dillashaw., who suffered an early shoulder injury that prevented him from using his arm throughout the fight. Again, a shadow on the triumph.
Given the stakes, Aljo’s bout with Cejudo could determine if he is indeed only a “lucky guy” or a deserving champion of the bantamweight class. With Cejudo out of the picture, he is the best wrestler and grappler in the division, with exemplary cardio, whose grip is a death trap.
Henry Cejudo (-110) is arguably the greatest wrestler in the company’s history when looking at the whole picture. He was one of the top freestyle wrestlers in the world when he won gold at the Olympic Games 15 years ago. Upon accomplishing all the possible success in that sport, he turned to MMA, where he quickly rose to the level of legend, becoming one of four champions to hold two belts simultaneously.
He was an invincible wrestler whose strength was unprecedented at the time. In his prime, nobody could keep up with his power and speed, let alone his cardio. His latest victories (which were a long time ago) were against Marlon Moraes, TJ Dillashaw, and Dominick Cruz, and he won them all via KO.
The fact that Cejudo hasn’t fought in three years has led many to question his health and fitness. Nobody can be sure about his form and overall shape because three years is a long period.
Although Sterling is physically larger, he is not necessarily a stronger striker than Henry Cejudo. In contrast to his matches against past opponents, Aljo may struggle to get things going without a significant advantage on the mat due to Triple C’s ground skills. Cejudo is our pick to triumph and make a victorious comeback, presumably after the decision. Aljo’s tricks won’t work this time with an experienced wrestler on the other side of the octagon.
Pick: Henry Cejudo wins
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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