The time has finally come as fans in the Prudential Center in Newark and those watching around the world will finally see the moment they’ve all been waiting for. UFC 288 will conclude with it’s Main Even bout – a five round fight for the Bantamweight Championship of the World. The Champion and hometown fighter Aljamain Sterling will defend his belt against former double-champ Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo. You won’t want to miss this one! Check out our UFC odds series for our Sterling-Cejudo prediction and pick.
Aljamain Sterling has a professional record of 22-3 and has gone 14-3 within the UFC. He gained the title after an illegal knee from Petr Yan, but silenced the doubters when he defended his strap against the Russian and subsequently beat TJ Dillashaw in another defense. He’s shown that his grappling is levels above the rest of the Bantamweight division and will be welcoming the former king of the bantamweights back to the ring. The Champion Sterling stands 5’7″ with a 71-inch reach.
Henry Cejudo is 16-2 in his MMA career and has gone 10-2 in the UFC. He’s a former gold medalist in freestyle wrestling in the 2008 Olympic Games. He also earned double-champ status when he captured both the UFC Flyweight and Bantamweight Championships. His last fight came in 2019 against Dominick Cruz, but “Triple C” believes he can become “C4″ with another championship shot here. Cejudo stands 5’4” with a 67.5-inch reach.
Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
UFC 288 Odds: Aljamain Sterling-Henry Cejudo Odds
Aljamain Sterling: -106
Henry Cejudo: -120
Over (4.5) rounds: -164
Under (4.5) rounds: +128
How to Watch Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo
Stream: ESPN App
Time: 10:00 p.m. ET/ 7:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)
Why Aljamain Sterling Will Win
Aljamain Sterling has proven that he’s separated from the rest of the bantamweight division. He has otherworldly strength in his grappling and truly latches onto opponents like a backpack. Once he secures the back, the round may as well be over and scored for Sterling as he’s impossible to shake from that position. He’ll constantly threaten with the rear naked choke and eventually, he’ll get it. His striking has come a long way to this point of his career and he’ll come into this fight confident he’ll be able to damage Cejudo on the feet.
Sterling is supremely confident in his abilities and believes he can get Cejudo down 3-4 times in the first round. Sterling believes that his activity will be the differencensince he’s won and defending the belt multiple times since Cejudo last stepped foot inside the octagon. It’ll be clear on Saturday that Aljamain Sterling is the much faster fighter and will undoubtedly silence some people with his superior wrestling. While he’s not an Olympian like his opposition, Sterling is about as good of an MMA grappler as you can possibly be.
Why Henry Cejudo Will Win
Henry Cejudo has felt confident since his retirement, often stating that he could come back at any time and clear the division. Well, the talking ends Saturday as Cejudo will return to the cage for the first time since 2019. His accolades speak for themselves and a win over Aljamain Sterling for the Bantamweight belt could cement Cejudo as one of the top 3 MMA GOATs. It’s clear that his wrestling is second-to-none. During the last few fights of his career, Cejudo showed tremendous maturation in his striking game and often let his hands be the difference against tough opponents. It’ll be interesting to see what game plan he comes out with as no one prepares for a fight quite like Henry Cejudo.
While he’s been away from the sport, Cejudo is constantly involved through his gym, training fighters through his camps, and breaking down fights on his YouTube channel. He’s clearly one of the best minds in MMA today, but he’ll have to overcome a long layoff and possible ring rust ahead of a fight with a uber-athletic opponent. Cejudo will have to prepare like he never has before if he wants his fourth Championship. Cejudo can win this fight only if he outsmarts Aljamain Sterling. Look for Cejudo to use his leg kicks early and be extremely efficient in the striking. It’ll be interesting to see if he still has the same endless gas tank he did in his first tenure.
Final Aljamain Sterling-Henry Cejudo Prediction & Pick
This is going to be one of the highest level MMA fights you are ever going to watch, Henry Cejudo is a savant when it comes to preparation ahead of a fight. Don’t let the cringe fool you – the guy is a serious mastermind that boils his fight camps down to an exact science. If anyone’s going to have the tools to beat Aljamain Sterling, it’s probably Henry Cejudo.
However, Sterling is in the very peak of his physical and mental development. He’s going to be much more athletic than Cejudo and can rely on his quickness to get out of bad spots. The difference will ultimately be the activity for Aljamain Sterling. He’s at the top of his game and it’s truly hard to tell whether Henry Cejudo will be the same version of his old self. For the prediction, let’s take the Champion here as the underdog to get the impressive win.
Final Aljamain Sterling-Henry Cejudo Prediction & Pick: Aljamain Sterling (-106)
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