Tomorrow night in the headliner of UFC 288, the bantamweight championship is on the line. Champ Aljamain Sterling (22-3) will look for his third successful title defense as he takes on a man who never lost the bantamweight title in former two-division champion Henry Cejudo (16-2).
Cejudo will be fighting for the first time in over three years tomorrow night. The last time we saw the former champion inside the octagon was against Dominick Cruz who he stopped in the second round. Following that fight, he announced his retirement from the sport.
A couple of years later, Cejudo started to get the itch to fight again. He’s constantly been in the gym and working with top tier guys at his gym. He jumped back into the USADA pool and now he’s getting a chance to reclaim the UFC bantamweight title.
However, to do that, he must defeat Aljamain Sterling. Sterling’s title reign has been interesting to say the least. Let’s start with how he won the title. Well, he was getting dominated in the fourth round against Petr Yan and then Yan hit him with an illegal knee that caused a DQ awarding Sterling the title.
Then, he won a split decision against Yan in his first title defense. Following that, he stopped TJ Dillashaw, however, Dillashaw was badly compromised going into the fight with a shoulder injury. Sterling is still searching for respect and if he gets the win over Cejudo, it’ll be hard to deny him that.
UFC 288 Prediction
The fascinating part of the UFC 288 headliner is the grappling. Aljamain Sterling can be like a backpack for his opponents. Just ask Petr Yan that. Sterling has sensational wrestling and grappling which he uses to impose his will on his opponents.
However, I don’t see him doing that against the former Olympic Gold Medalist in Cejudo. I see these two cancelling each other out in the early rounds with their wrestling. Sterling is going to throw a lot of volume early and expect him to work a lot of kicks. I could see a heavy leg kick attack from Sterling.
Expect Cejudo to be methodical early on in this one. I expect him to feel his way in, have a diverse attack, and look to counter. I’m suspecting Cejudo will play the long game in this one. Sterling cuts a ton of weight and has made it known that he is wanting to move to 145.
Cejudo makes 135 easily and was also the flyweight champion. I think he’s going to own the championship rounds and I suspect we will see Sterling fade. Cejudo will land some late takedowns in this one and I suspect he sweeps the championship rounds. The first three rounds will be close, but Cejudo will snag one of them.
In the end, I think we see a very competitive fight, but Henry Cejudo edges Aljamain Sterling to once again become UFC bantamweight champ.
Prediction: Henry Cejudo by Decision