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Anyone else surprised to see UFC 288 main event as a pick ’em fight?

Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo are set to square off in the main event of UFC 288 and the oddsmakers are torn as to who will win the fight and I’m asking myself why?

Before getting into why I’m confused, first let’s looking at some of the odds as this fight is pretty much a pick’em fight.

DraftKings has Sterling at -105 and Cejudo at -115. FanDuel has it -113 for both fighters. Sports Betting has Sterling at -103 and Cejudo at -115. Bet MGM has Sterling -105 and Cejudo -118. Unibet has Sterling -106 and Cejudo at -118.

Of course, the numbers are likely to change all week, and these were the numbers as of Tuesday evening, but even with the numbers changing, that still gives you a ballpark figure of what to look at.

For me, I’m not surprised that it’s close, but I’m a little thrown off guard as to why it’s a pick ‘em fight.

Sterling has a size advantage and a big one at that. He has a good three, maybe even four inches on Cejudo, he’s been flirting with the idea of moving up to featherweight because of this bigger weight cuts and he’ll also bring a seven-inch reach advantage into the octagon.

Age is also on the side of the champion as he’s three years younger than the challenger.

However, my biggest thing with this matchup is the activity. Ring rust can be a real thing and time and time again we’ve seen ring rust play a major factor in fights.

With that being said, Cejudo hasn’t fought since 2020 when he defeated Dominick Cruz at UFC 249. Meanwhile, while Cejudo has been sidelined since he retired following his title defense over Cruz, Sterling has been racking up wins as he hasn’t lost since 2017 and has won eight fights in a row.

Since his retirement, Cejudo has gotten into coaching and has been showing up and practically training as he’s helped Deiveson Figueiredo and Weili Zhang capture titles under his coaching. Still, there’s usually a difference between the gym and live action on fight night or at least that’s the case for most fighters coming back from a long layoff.

So, with that being said, am I missing something? Do the oddsmakers know something that we don’t know? Do the oddsmaker worry about Sterling’s weight cut? Or do they not see ring rust as a factor?

Cejudo is a great fighter and a great martial artist. He won UFC titles at flyweight and bantamweight and was an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling before coming over to MMA.

I’m aware of all that, but I just keep going back to those reasons why I feel like this fight should favor Sterling.

If Sterling opened as a decent favorite and the odds came down to make it a closer fight, I think that’d be fair, but a pick ‘em I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this one.

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