Aljamain Sterling defends his bantamweight title against Henry Cejudo in the main event of UFC 288 on Saturday night. It’s an extremely tough fight to predict and the odds reflect that — Sterling is the bigger man and has been active over the last year while Cejudo hasn’t competed since 2020 and will have his biggest size discrepancy in the UFC yet. However, Cejudo still remains a pound-for-pound talent who is a former simultaneous two-weight champion and an Olympic champion.
So who are the fighters predicting to come out on top in this bantamweight title matchup? Here’s a look at some of the most prominent MMA names and who they’re predicting to win between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo at UFC 288.
Which fighters are predicting Aljamain Sterling to win?
Many fighters are picking Sterling to retain his title and interestingly, his longtime rival Yan happens to be one of them.
Former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan:
“I think Sterling will win. … I think it [layoff] will affect him [Cejudo], I don’t think he’ll show his best.”
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz:
“This is very interesting. Henry Cejudo, long break so we will see his shape. Sterling after his first fight with Petr Yan, it was very controversial but in the rematch, he was much better so I think he’s going to beat him.”
UFC lightweight contender Drew Dober:
“That’s going to be such a close fight. I think they’re both amazing grapplers. Cejudo, being obviously an Olympic wrestler, and Aljamain bringing in that strong grappling ability of being able to take people’s backs. I think the significant attribute is going to be the size advantage and I don’t know if Henry Cejudo put on that athletic size in his retirement. So that’s going to be the big thing and I think Aljamain is going to be able to get it done by decision.”
UFC bantamweight contender Rob Font:
“That’s a fun fight. I’m excited for the press conference, I think they’re going to sell the hell out of that fight. … I’m going with the champ on this one.”
UFC welterweight contender: Geoff Neal:
“I don’t know how much that layoff is going to affect with Henry. I’m going with Aljamain.”
UFC middleweight Gerald Meerschaert:
“I’m going to go with Aljo. I think he’s just a little bit too long and tricky with the kicks. I think at some point Cejudo is going to be willing to go to the grappling department and he’s going to be playing a different game than Aljo is, and Aljo is going to find a way to take the back and either ride it out or take his neck.”
Which fighters are predicting Henry Cejudo to win?
While it seems the majority of fighters are going with Sterling, there are still quite a few who believe Cejudo will get the job done despite his layoff. That includes potential future opponent Alexander Volkanovski who Cejudo has been calling out for a number of years.
UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski:
“This weekend, I’ve got a close eye on the main event because I guarantee you Aljamain or Cejudo, whoever wins, they’re calling me out,” Volkanovksi said on his YouTube channel. “I can bet my balls on it. They’re calling me out.”
“… I’m leaning towards Henry Cejudo. They’re even so the best bet is Cejudo. He’s got more tools to win it. I think he understands the game, so I think he’ll be preparing well. There are big threats that Aljamain has but he’s [Cejudo] the type of fighter who’ll study, put themselves in those positions and really work on things that need to be worked on.”
UFC bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley:
“I think Henry gets the job done. … I think Henry’s going to outpace Aljo. I think Aljo is cutting too much weight. I think Henry is going to, whether it’s a decision or get the job done in later rounds, I think he’s going to get the job done.”
UFC welterweight contender Gilbert Burns:
“I just think the question for Henry to answer is those three years — not training that much, being a little bit out of shape. … But he’s been competing all his life. I still think he’ll be able to come back just like we were asking about Jon Jones. I like both guys… I think Henry Cejudo might be able to get a win.”
UFC featherweight contender Movsar Evloev:
“Sterling is good. His striking is not comfortable for anybody and he takes the back very well. The main thing he does is wrestling but Cejudo is another level of wrestling. I prefer Cejudo.”
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