UFC 288: Sterling vs. Cejudo Odds, Prediction and Fight Preview

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UFC 288: Sterling vs. Cejudo Odds, Prediction and Fight Preview

When the last UFC pay-per-view took place at New Jersey’s Prudential Centre, Pitbull and Kesha were at the top of the charts with “Timber,” Kevin Hart and Ice Cube’s buddy cop movie Ride Along was in its third week as the biggest box office draw in America, and Renan Barao successfully defended his bantamweight title with a first-round stoppage win over Urijah Faber.

When the MMA world’s foremost promotion returns to the home of the New Jersey Devils this weekend, the bantamweight title fight between the champion, Aljamain Sterling, and the challenger, the returning former two-division world champion, Henry Cejudo, will once again be the main event. The upcoming PPV will continue the trend of excellent numbered events so far this year, with a great main card and a solid assortment of preliminary card bouts.

UFC 288 poster
The initial UFC 288 poster

Sterling vs. Cejudo

On Saturday night’s main card, bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling will welcome back “Triple C,” Henry Cejudo, to the Octagon looking to make his third successful title defence in 14 months.

Sterling defended his championship twice in 2022, first against Petr Yan in a split decision at UFC 273, then against TJ Dillashaw in a second-round finish at UFC 280 in October. The 33-year-old winner has won eight in a row and has a 22-3 overall record, including a perfect 9-0 record in his home state of New Jersey.

Many were taken aback when Cejudo announced his retirement from MMA in the cage after his UFC 250 victory over Dominick Cruz, but the former flyweight and bantamweight champion is back after nearly three years away. It would be interesting to see if the Olympic gold medallist can continue his amazing run of form this weekend. He had won six in a row, the past three by stoppage.

Cejudo is an elite wrestler who relies on his own pace and conditioning, making this a compelling contest, while Sterling excels at the outset of grappling exchanges and driving a torrid pace that puts opponents on their heels. It will be fascinating to observe how the action unfolds once the cage door is closed and the fight begins because each man has dedicated a great deal of time and effort to improving his striking throughout the course of his career.

From a storytelling perspective, the winner of this bout might vault to the forefront of debates over the all-time best UFC bantamweights. Whilst the 135-pound ranks are currently a shark tank, the winner of this fight will have beaten a former champion and there has been no titleholder that has truly dominated the division for an extended period.

Odds: Aljamain Sterling (-120) vs. Henry Cejudo (-110)

Our Prediction: The three year plus hiatus and size difference should play a factor in the fight. Unless Cejudo can pull of a knockout, we expect Sterling to win the fight by unanimous decision.

This co-main event came together a couple of weeks ago, but it’s a real slugfest and it should help identify the next welterweight title challenger.

With his victory over Sean Brady at UFC 280, Muhammad enters on a four-fight winning streak and a nine-fight unbeaten run. The 33-year-old Chicagoan’s stoppage victory over Brady in Abu Dhabi was the culmination of a string of successes that began with a last-minute fight against reigning champion Leon Edwards two years ago.

Burns, fresh off his victory over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 288, returns to action on the same night as the next pay-per-view event. The gifted Brazilian has already taken home two triumphs in 2019; if he can add a third before June, he will be in excellent position to continue his winning ways into the second half of 2023.

It will be intriguing to watch which of the two guys can gain control of the exchanges and impose their will on the other, given that both men tend to lead the dance and define the terms of engagement with their pace and pressure.

Also on the card is a highly anticipated match between Chinese contender Yan Xiaonan and powerhouse Jessica Andrade, the latter making her third appearance this year.

Andrade won her last strawweight bout by submission in the first round by squeezing in a standing arm-triangle choke against Amanda Lemos. Despite her recent loss to Erin Blanchfield at flyweight, the Brazilian powerhouse is still a legitimate title contender at 115 pounds, where she has already won the belt.

Yan was temporarily derailed by back-to-back defeats to former champion Carla Esparza and Marina Rodriguez, but a majority decision victory over Mackenzie Dern in October set her back on track. At her best, Yan is a fast, furious fighter who keeps her distance and picks apart her opponents, but doing so against Andrade will be no easy task.

Given that two-time champion Zhang Weili has yet to schedule a fight this year, this bout takes on added importance, as a convincing victory for either woman might put them on the short list of contenders to face Zhang Weili later in the year.

On Saturday, Kron Gracie returns to the ring after an absence of more than three years to take on French-Canadian action fighter Charles Jourdain in the main event.

Gracie won his first five MMA matches by submission, including his UFC debut in February 2019 against Alex Caceres. In a later fight that year, he challenged veteran Cub Swanson, but he was defeated by a unanimous decision and hasn’t been seen since.

The 27-year-old Jourdain started off last year by submitting Lando Vannata in the first round, but he ended the year with two straight decision losses to Shane Burgos and Nathaniel Wood. He’s a lot of fun to watch, but he hasn’t had much luck in the Octagon so far in his UFC career (4-5-1 entering Newark).

UFC 288 Main Card Odds

  • Aljamain Sterling (-120) vs. Henry Cejudo (-110)
  • Gilbert Burns (-135) vs. Belal Muhammad (+110)
  • Jessica Andrade (-200) vs. Yan Xiaonan (+160)
  • Kron Gracie (+165) vs. Charles Jourdain (-200)

UFC 288 Preliminary Card Odds

  • Drew Dober (-225) vs. Matt Frevola (+185)
  • Devin Clark (+175) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (-210)
  • Rolando Bedoya (+250) vs. Khaos Williams (-300)
  • Virna Jandiroba (+140) vs. Marina Rodriguez (-165)
  • Parker Porter (-190) vs. Braxton Smith (+155)
  • Ikram Aliskerov (-210) vs. Phil Hawes (+175)
  • Rafael Estevam (-150) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (+125)
  • Joseph Holmes (+175) vs. Claudio Ribeiro (-210)
  • Johnny Munoz (+140) vs. Daniel Santos (-165)

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Edited by: Gerard Crispin