UFC 288 has been ravaged with many canceled fights. From Charles Oliveira to Bryce Mitchell, a lot of big names had to withdraw due to unfortunate injuries. However, fortunately, fans will get to see the main event go on without any hitch as both the bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling and challenger Henry Cejudo will make the walk to the Octagon this Saturday.
Aljamain Sterling is returning to the Octagon following his title defense against TJ Dillashaw at UFC 280. He won the title in a controversial manner at UFC 259 when an illegal knee from Petr Yan handed him the strap after a disqualification. Yan was definitely winning the fight up until then. However, in their rematch at UFC 273, Sterling earned a decisive win over Yan.
THE TALKING STOPS TOMORROW 🤬@FunkMasterMMA vs @HenryCejudo for the bantamweight title at #UFC288!!
[ Live on ESPN+ PPV: https://t.co/ZDDxUDJwAA ] pic.twitter.com/488g8PMdEI
— UFC (@ufc) May 5, 2023
Although the fight against TJ Dillashaw was a one-sided affair due to the latter’s injury, fans can expect Aljo to face a tough challenge against former UFC double champ Henry Cejudo. After his initial retirement in 2020, Cejudo got married and started a family. However, he had the itch to fight once more and he will challenge the current champ in his returning fight. So how does the fight play out? Let’s find out.
UFC 288: Aljamain Sterling vs Henry Cejudo, Stats
|Stats||Aljamain Sterling||Henry Cejudo|
|Height||1.7 m||1.63 m|
|Reach||180.3 cm||162.6 cm|
Sterling vs Cejudo: Fight Breakdown
Aljamain Sterling has an MMA record of 22 wins and 3 losses. In his pro career, Aljo has 3 KO/TKOs and 8 submission wins. He is an extremely potent grappler and his submission win over Corey Sandhagen was his most dominant performance inside the Octagon. However, the TKO wins over Dillashaw and Hugo Viana are also a reminder that he possesses a great deal of power.
Henry Cejudo, on the other hand, is an Olympic Gold Medalist in freestyle wrestling. So there is no need to add how good his grappling skills really are. He has an MMA record of 16-2 with 8 TKO/KOs and 8 decision wins. Interestingly, Cejudo is yet to have a submission win on his record. It just goes to show that not many of his opponents want to risk the outcome by engaging in the mat.
According to UFC Stats, Cejudo lands 2.2 takedowns per fight with a 33% accuracy rate. In terms of striking, he manages to land 3.92 strikes per minute with an accuracy of 45%. He absorbs 2.77 strikes with a defense rate of 65%. In comparison, Aljo secures 1.98 takedowns per fight and lands 4.70 strikes. The Funk Master only absorbs 2.18 strikes per minute. It proves Henry will have the advantage on the ground, while Aljo will have an easier time on the feet.
On top of that, Aljo has a huge height and reach advantage over Cejudo. While that did not matter in his last fight against Dominick Cruz, it will certainly play a factor against Sterling who is extremely nimble on his feet. However, Sterling only has a 41% takedown defense. So that is something that Triple C would want to exploit. While Sterling will have success if he can utilize his reach, Henry may reclaim the belt if he makes it a grappling fest.