UFC 288 is finally behind us and what a great night of fighting it was! Despite the initial belief that the card was not strong enough, the fighters truly showed up and showed out. Most notably, Aljamain Sterling defended his title on the headliner.
Making his third title defense, Sterling took on a returning Henry Cejudo. Arguably one of the best mixed martial artists of all time, Cejudo made his return off the back of a lengthy three-year layoff. Following his win over Dominick Cruz, Cejudo chose to retire and start a family instead.
However, his comeback was not successful as he lost via split decision. Commenting on Henry’s performance after the fight, Sterling said, “Henry’s takedown defense, I knew it was going to be tough. But like I said, that Olympic gold medal doesn’t count for sh*t in the Octagon”. Further, the Funkmaster revealed that the key to his victory was persistence and landing more takedowns and harder strikes.
Taking a look at the stats and the scorecards of the fight, it is clear that the New York native edged out the contest. On the night, Sterling scored 4 out of 14 takedowns, whilst Cejudo managed 2 out of his 6 attempts. Moreover, Sterling had 186 total strikes as compared to Cejudo’s 143 with the latter looking comparatively worse for wear as well.
Aljamain Sterling nearly got into a brawl with Sean O’Malley
For the most part, UFC 288 made for a rather interesting showing. With some brilliant performances in the prelims, the main card was where things got particularly spicy. Although Kron Gracie failed to impress, Yan Xiaonan delivered a masterful KO of Jessica Andrade and Belal Muhammad secured a dominant win over Gilbert Burns in the co-main.
Even the main event of the evening was an outstanding bout between two highly-skilled competitors. However, things got more interesting when Sean O’Malley made his way into the Octagon after the fight. As it has been understood for a while now, the #2 ranked O’Malley is the next contender for the title. Since Merab Dvalishvili is unwilling to fight his friend and team member, it leaves O’Malley as the only real choice.
Sean O’Malley and Aljamain Sterling exchanged words in the octagon at #UFC288 pic.twitter.com/DfJPjR0JnE
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 7, 2023
Thus, following the conclusion of the bout, Sterling called out O’Malley, who promptly made his way into the Octagon. Facing the champ he said, “You better look better than that, you better look better than that. You looked like sh*t.” In his response, Sterling replied, “I’ll drag your a** up and down this f***ing Octagon b**ch. Get the f**k out of my cage.” During this time, Merab for some reason, decided to put on O’Malley’s discarded jacket, which did not go down well with the latter.
As such, a fight nearly broke out inside the Octagon but was soon contained. In the parting words that followed, Sterling echoed, “September. Signed, delivered and sealed.” Thus, it appears that Sterling and O’Malley will throw down in the fall. Although the date is yet to be fully confirmed, the fight would bring Sterling to 4 title defenses.