This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC 288, the bantamweight title was on the line. Champion Aljamain Sterling (23-3) was looking for his third successful title defense as he took on the returning former two-division champion Henry Cejudo (16-3).
Cejudo was fighting for the first time in over three years and many wondered how he’d do considering the layoff. It was evident from the opening minutes that Cejudo hadn’t lost a step and he meant business inside the octagon. The fight turned out to be a technical affair and it was razor close.
Heading into the fifth round, most had Sterling up or had the fight tied. Personally, I had the fight 2-2 heading into the final round. In a fight where every round was close, the fifth was the easiest to score with Cejudo clearly winning the round and I had him winning the fight 48-47.
However, when the judges scorecards were read, two out of the three judges gave the win to Sterling at UFC 288. No problem with Sterling winning, however, one of the judges gave the fifth round to Sterling which secured the split decision win and that is criminal if you ask me. If that round was scored correctly, Cejudo wins a split decision. Nevertheless, Sterling retained his UFC bantamweight title.
Is the former UFC champion done?
After the fight, a dejected Cejudo admitted that he didn’t know what’s next and whether or not he’d be walking away from the sport. In the post-fight press conference, Cejudo was incredibly frustrated to hear that a deciding judge gave the fifth to Sterling. For what it’s worth, Derek Cleary was also a judge that scored Cejudo’s loss against Joseph Benavidez.
Again, Sterling winning the fight shouldn’t upset anyone. There’s easily an argument for him winning three of the first four at UFC 288. However, anyone who scored the fifth round for him shouldn’t be allowed to judge. Cejudo was undecided on his future after the fight, but this morning, he made his intentions clear.
Cejudo called for a fight with Merab Dvalishvili. This is the fight to make if you ask me. Dvalishvili will not fight his teammate for the title despite being the number one contender. Cejudo would get to fight the top contender for another shot at the champion. If you ask me, if Sterling defeats O’Malley, he’s not going to get to move up like he wants if Cejudo defeats Dvalishvili.
The UFC would 100% run it back with Sterling and Cejudo before letting anyone move up to 145.