Aljamain Sterling narrowly defeats the returning Henry Cejudo, defends bantamweight title at UFC 288

Aljamain Sterling narrowly defeats the returning Henry Cejudo, defends bantamweight title at UFC 288

The Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to us tonight, May 6, 2023, for UFC 288, going down live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Headlining the event was the return of former UFC flyweight & bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo (16-2), who makes his first appearance in three years in attempt to reclaim his throne against current champion Aljamain Sterling (22-3).

Following his claim of the UFC flyweight championship in 2018, Cejudo defended his title once before moving up to 135 lbs, where he also won the title and defended it a single time prior to leaving the sport in 2020.

Sterling on the other hand had gone 4-0 since Cejudo last fought, the latter three victories of which came in championship encounters.

Continue reading to see how this epic bantamweight championship bout went down:

Official Result: Aljamain Sterling def. Henry Cejudo via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)

Sterling controls the center of the octagon through the first 90 seconds until Cejudo secures a body lock takedown and puts him on his back. He isn’t able to remain on top for long however, and midway through the round Sterling is back to his feet.

Sterling then takes Cejudo down and controls him along the fence through the final minute of the opening round.

Cejudo lands some solid leg kicks in the second, though he has a tough time finding the range with his hands until the second half of the round as Sterling is doing a good job of keeping the range with his kicks. Cejudo then lands some good right hands, and also partially lands three head kicks.

Cejudo has a great start to round three, as he cracks Sterling with a good right hand and throws a flying knee immediately following. This forced a shot out of Sterling, which Cejudo easily stuffs. Sterling then takes Cejudo down momentarily, though Cejudo is right back to his feet.

Sterling then continues pressing Cejudo into the fence in search of a takedown before they eventually separate and are back to striking range, where Cejudo secures an inside trip at the end of the round.

Round four was very competitive, with Cejudo pressing the action, landing good punches and leg kicks, and Sterling landing good punches and kicks of his own. There were also some grappling exchanges in this round, with each man having success.

Cejudo continued to press the pace into the fifth and final round and secures a takedown in the final minute.

This was a very close fight; both Sterling and Cejudo looked very good tonight.

Congratulations to UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling on making the third-straight defense of his title tonight at UFC 288.

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Brady Ordway
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon Versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That's the first fight I ever saw, and I was immediately hooked. So eventually, I began covering the sport in the fourth quarter of 2018, and have since started writing about animals as well. If you'd like to see those pieces, be sure to check out!