UFC 288 Highlights: Sterling beats Cejudo via split decision; Defends bantamweight title

UFC 288: Catch all the highlights from the Ultimate Fighting Championship fight night where Aljamain Sterling beat Henry Cejudo to defend his bantamweight title for the third time at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Sunday.

Published : May 07, 2023 06:30 IST , CHENNAI - 15 MINS READ

Henry Cejudo (L) and Aljamain Sterling (R).
Henry Cejudo (L) and Aljamain Sterling (R). | Photo Credit: Twitter/UFC

Henry Cejudo (L) and Aljamain Sterling (R). | Photo Credit: Twitter/UFC

Welcome to Sportstar’s highlights of the UFC 288 where Aljamain Sterling beat Henry Cejudo to defend his bantamweight title for the third time at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Sunday.

Aljamain Sterling vs Henry Cejudo - UFC Bantamweight Title Bout

  • Result: Aljamain Sterling defeats Henry Cejudo by split decision (47–48, 48–47, 48–47) to defend his UFC Bantamweight Title

Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling is the UFC Bantamweight division champion!

Decision Time!
Round 5

Sterling is the dominant fighter in the fifth round well. Cejudo, however, is able to hand a few body blows in between. But, as far as strikes are concerned, the defending champion has overdone the American. Cejudo gets the hold of Sterling’s left leg and he pushes him into the corner of the cage. A close combat fight continues, tough to judge who is the clear leader but Sterling’s body language gives him the upper hand. Five rounds and 25 minutes ended and the world awaits the decision now.

Round 4

Cejudo connects a punch followed by a jab to start the penultimate round. Sterling quickly goes back and he changed his strategy to fight without giving any space to Cejudo and it seems to have worked in his favour in this round. A close and competitive round comes to an end as he moves to the final round.

Round 3

Cejudo gets an early opportunity to pin Sterling down, but the Jamaican uses his height and reach to come out of the pin and he is on the prowl. He holds Cejudo from back, and this time the American has to come out of the trap, which he does with one-and-half minutes still to go in this round.

Cejudo takes Sterling down and the latter was trying to tangle his feet but the Olympic gold medallist clinched at the right time and, with this third round ends.

Round 2

Sterling is pumped up for the second round and straight away connects a flying kick on Cejudo’s neck. Another round saw a lot of action but mistimed shots exhausted both fighters by the end of the second round.

Round 1

A quick start by Sterling in the first round of this champion bout. He tries to connect a kick but Cejudo moves on time. Sterling holds Cejudo from the back but wait wait wait says Cejudo as he takes the current champion down with ease and it is the American who is dominating the moment.

Henry is building pressure on Sterling with his grappling techniques. He pinned Sterling from his neck but Sterling makes his move to clinic him down and takes advantage by keeping Cejudo down. Sterling manoeuvres to find a proper grip on his chest from the back and he tries to choke him while also blowing punches but Cejudo escapes again . A well-fought round 1 comes to an end.


Aljamain Sterling
Record: 22-3-0
Height: 170.2 cm Weight: 61.2 kg
Reach: 180.3 cm
Two wins by KO, four by submission
Debut: 2014 (UFC)
Current Bantamweight champion (ranked number 1)
Henry Cejudo
Record: 22-3-0
Height: 170.2 cm Weight: 61.2 kg
Reach: 180.3 cm
Two wins by KO, four by submission
Debut: 2014 (UFC)
Current Bantamweight champion (ranked number 1)

Belal Muhammad vs Gilbert Burns - Welterweight bout

Result: Belal Muhammad defeats Gilbert Burns (50–45, 49–46, 49–46) by Unanimous Decision, Round 5, 5:00

Round 5

Burns is exhausted. Belal finally connects a kick after four attempts. As the time ends, both fighters are playing in close quarters. Burns gets a couple of jabs landed on the face, but Muhammad is the one who is still dictating the pace with his quality blows. He is disengaging with the tussle whenever he wants, and with this, the five minutes come to an end, and Belal looks more confident after the 25 minutes of cage combat.

Round 4

First proper hit by Burns as this time he connects a well-timed leg kick on the neck of Muhammad. Burns certainly looks much more confident after that kick and he tries to hold the left knee of Belal twice but fails to trap him. A much-better round for Burns in the first four minutes but Belel is showing his aggressive moves as he landed four kicks and a heavy blow on the face just near the final whistle of this round. Round four ends and we are up for the final round.

Round 3

Belal certainly looks like the aggressor in the bout till now. He is able to fight the bout on his terms and connects several punches and kicks in the face. Burns looks to hold his calm, but Muhammad is making sure to keep him busy with constant kicks. Burns is way too tired and it looks Muhammad will dominate the next two rounds as well as we come to the end of the third round.

Round 2

A passive second round with not much initiative shown by both fighters. A couple of kicks connected by Muhammad on Burns, but nothing apart from that as we come to an end of the second round.

Round 1

A slow start for both fighters in the first round. We are three minutes into the opening round of the co-main event and not even one of them landed a single blow to the other. Burns tries to take Muhammad down but a quick movement off the backfoot denies him this.

Finally, Muhammad landed back-to-back kicks on the face, and he follows it up with a right jab and Burns is feeling the heat. Belal attempts a corner kick, which lands on Burns’s face and results in a bloodied nose. Round 1 ends with Muhammad in a dominating position.

Belal Muhammad is here!

- 2nd Longest Active Unbeaten Streak In UFC Welterweight (Division 9)

- 2nd Highest Takedown Defense In UFC Welterweight History (92.7 per cent)

8th Most Significant Strikes in UFC Welterweight History 1,041


  • Muhammad, 4th ranked- 22-3-0, NC
  • Burns, 5th ranked- 22-5-0

Jessica Andrade vs Yan Xiaonan - Women’s strawweight bout

Result: Yan Xiaonan defeats Jessica Andrade via Technical Knock Out (punches), Round 1, 2:20

Round 1

Xiaonan starts the fight and makes first contact with a leg kick. Andrade looks very focused and tries to connect a few jabs but Xionan is very alert and moves away. Xiaonan connects a heavy jab on Andrade, and she is in no mood to stop, lands a few more body blows followed by kicks.

Andrade tries to make a move on Xionan as she charges on her but a heavy blow right on the face takes her down, and Xiaonan pounces on her to close the fight with more punches, and what are we seeing? This is done! Yan Xionan knocks out the veteran Andrade in the first round itself! One punch and it is a TKO in favour of Xiaonan. What a bout, what a fight by the Chinese.

Yan Xionan after the TKO win over Jessica Andrade.
Yan Xionan after the TKO win over Jessica Andrade. | Photo Credit: Twitter/UFC

Yan Xionan after the TKO win over Jessica Andrade. | Photo Credit: Twitter/UFC

Record for Andrade

Jessica Andrade became the first women’s fighter to fight in 23 or more UFC fights, a record in women’s category across division.

Fighters enter cage

The sixth-ranked Chinese, Yan Xiaonan makes her way into the cage and Jessica Andrade, ranked four in the women’s strawweight follows her.


  • Andrade- 24-10-0
  • Xiaonan - 16-3-0

Movsar Evloev vs Diego Lopes - Featherweight bout

Result: Movsar Evloev defeats Diego Lopes (29–28, 29–28, 30–27) by Unanimous Decision.

Round 3

Lopes is struggling to retaliate here at the moment. The experienced Evloev lands a combination of body shots, strikes and jabs all over the Brazilian’s body. Russian is trying to close in here as he holds the waist of Lopes while kicking in his legs.

Lopes turns and hold Evloev’s hand, and he puts all his energy to twist him. Evloev somehow manages to survive with his defence. Lopes continues to fight in close range, this time he picks up the right leg and stretches it, but Evloev survives, yet again as we come to the end of the last round. What an impressive bout we just had with the debutant showing his competence against the undefeated Evloev.

Round 2

Lopes, with a bloodied face, looks tired as Evloev tries to dominate the second round with jabs right on the Brazilian’s face. Both fighters engage in close combat but Evloev is showing his technical superiority with continuous strikes on Lopes.

The second roundends with a clear advantage to the Russian Evloev.

Round 1

The UFC newcomer starts with impressive leg kicks on Evloev. The Russian quickly responds with a right jab followed by an array of strikes on his face. Lopes has been taken down and it is the Russian who is dictating the fight now. The tussle continues as Lopes tangled Evloev while on his back. Lopes gets Evloev’s right arm and he traps it and the crowd gets excited, the newcomer was inches away from the submission but Evloev gets out of the trap at the right time.

Lopes continues to impress with his quick movements and this time he gets a hold of Evloev’s neck but round 1 ends here with the Brazilian making all the right moves.

Evloev follows

The Russian Movsar Evloev comes in the middle. He holds an impressive undefeated 16-0 record in the mixed martial arts. He also has the second-highest takedown rate in UFC featherweight history (5.4 per 15 mins).

Diego Lopes makes his way!

On a five-day notice, Diego Lopes shows up for his pay-per-view debut against 10th-ranked Evloev. The odds are stacked against him, will be enticing to watch how he copes up with the challenge.


  • Evloev - 16-0-0
  • Lopes - 0-1-0

Kron Gracie vs Charles Jourdain - Featherweight bout

Result: Charles Jourdain defeats Kon Gracie (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) by Unanimous Decision

Charles Jourdain dominates Kon Gracie for the win.
Charles Jourdain dominates Kon Gracie for the win. | Photo Credit: UFC

Charles Jourdain dominates Kon Gracie for the win. | Photo Credit: UFC

Round 3

Jourdain lands another upper-cut but Gracie stomps him with a firm jab. Gracie aims for the grapple and Jourdain brings out the knee to the hip. Gracie is in a daze as Jourdain unleashes fury swipes to the face with the elbow and pins him down again. Jourdain mixes up his stance and Gracie fails to shield a straight punch to the face. Jourdain lands a significant punch to the face before attempting a high-kick before the whistles blow.

Round 2

Jourdain starts with a couple of punches to the face but Gracie is more aggressive on the start this time. Gracie tangles himself around Jourdain’s waist and he is flipped towards the cage this time before Jourdain brings him down with a sharp arm and elbow. Jourdain targets the submission with another move to the ground. Gracie attempts to stay afloat by knocking Jourdain’s head but has no space to escape.

Some respite and Jourdain allows Gracie to get back on his feet. Jourdain mixes it up with some left jabs to the ribs and upper-cuts. His strikes have been phenomenally quicker than Gracie. Gracie attempts a grapple and brings Jourdain over him on the ground. Jourdain’s left-arm is briefly hooked by Gracie but he escapes a potential submission as Round 2 ends.

Round 1

Here goes - 34-year-old Gracie versus 27-year-old Jourdain. Jourdain lands a slew of direct strikes to Gracie’s face. Gracie quickly pins Jourdain towards the cage and he escapes the leash before flooring Gracie. Another upper elbow lands on Gracie’s chin. Gracie’s copped some serious blows. Jourdain lands another upper jab. Bang, bang, bang!

Upper cuts left, right and centre and Jourdain takes Gracie to the ground once again. Gracie is proactive as he attempts to turn the lock into a position of strength for himself. Gracie escapes and wades through the floor to get back on his feet watchfully. Gracie pushes Jourdain back to the cage. A couple of fledgling upper-cuts but Jourdain stands on top. Round 1 ends and looks like we have a clear leader at this point.

Jourdain, Gracie enter the Octagon

The ever-cool Jourdain steps into the Octagon with nonchalance. He is followed by Kron Gracie who returns after a break of three-and-a-half years!

Jourdain prepares for a Gracie challenge

Charles Jourdain will square off against Kron Gracie in the first fight on the main card. It will be intriguing to watch if Jourdain can use his experience to overcome his opponent in a sport that tends to favour dynamic combatants over fighters with one-dimensional skills. Here’s what Jourdain had to say ahead of the clash.

Charles Jourdain
Age: 27
Nationality: Canada
Height: 5’9’’
Weight: 65.77 kg
Reach: 69”
Stance: Switch
MMA record: 13 wins, six losses
Form guide (last five bouts): L L W W L
Stats: Eight knockout wins, four submission wins, one first-round win
Kron Gracie
Age: 34
Nationality: Brazil
Height: 5’9’’
Weight: 65.77 kg
Reach: 70”
Stance: Southpaw
MMA record: Five wins, one loss
Form guide (last five bouts): L W W W W
Stats: All wins by submission

Main card schedule

  • Aljamain Sterling vs Henry Cejudo - UFC bantamweight title bout
  • Belal Muhammad vs Gilbert Burns - Welterweight bout
  • Jessica Andrade vs Yan Xiaonan - Women’s strawweight bout
  • Movsar Evloev vs Diego Lopes - Featherweight bout
  • Kron Gracie vs Charles Jourdain - Featherweight bout

Prelims rounds are over and it is time for the main card fights!


  • Longest win streak in UFC bantamweight history - 8
  • Most control time in bantamweight history - 1:04:36
  • Fifth most sig. strikes landed in bantamweight history - 963
  • Third most submission att. in bantamweight history - 13
  • Third largest sig. strike differential in bantamweight history - +2.45
Sterling and Cejudo arrive!

Champion Aljamain Sterling and challenger Henry Cejudo have arrived for tonight’s biggie.



  • Lightweight: Matt Frevola def. Drew Dober - TKO (punches), Round 1: 4:08
  • Light heavyweight: Kennedy Nzechukwu def. Devin Clark - Technical Submission (guillotine choke), Round: 2 - 2:28
  • Welterweight: Khaos Williams def. Rolando Bedoya - Decision (split) (27–30, 29–28, 29–28), Round: 3 - 5:00
  • Women’s strawweight: Virna Jandiroba def. Marina Rodriguez - Decision (unanimous) (29–28, 29–28, 30–27), Round: 3 - 5:00

Early Prelims

  • Heavyweight: Parker Porter def. Braxton Smith - TKO (punches), Round: 1 - 2:10
  • Middleweight: Ikram Aliskerov def. Phil Hawes - KO (punches), Round: 1 - 2:10
  • Catchweight (189 lbs): Claudio Ribeiro def. Joseph Holmes - TKO (punches) - Round: 2 - 3:21


Henry Cejudo carried his young daughter to the podium and plopped her on his lap until she got restless and slithered off as Dad explained why he was breaking a three-year retirement to fight again inside a cage.

Cejudo’s wife eventually ducked under a row of cameras and whisked away their cooing daughter, America.

Someone had to keep an eye on their 1-year-old girl.

Sort of how Cejudo says Aljamain Sterling has kept UFC’s 135-pound championship warm for him during his absence.

“He’s babysitting my belt,” Cejudo said.

Cejudo, the only person to win an Olympic gold medal and a UFC title, held that bantamweight crown when he abruptly retired in May 2020 after he successfully defended the championship against Dominick Cruz..




  • Drew Dober vs Matt Frevola - Lightweight bout
  • Kennedy Nzechukwu vs Devin Clarkn - Light heavyweight bout
  • Khaos Williams vs Ronaldo Bedoya - Welterweight bout
  • Marina Rodriguez vs Virna Jandiroba - Women’s strawweight bout

Early prelims

  • Braxton Smith vs Parker Porter - Heavyweight bout
  • Phil Hawes vs Ikram Aliskerov - Middleweight bout
  • Joseph Holmes vs Claudio Ribeiro - Catchweight (189 lbs) bout

Cancelled Bouts of UFC 288: Daniel Santos vs. Johnny Munoz Jr. and Rafael Estevam vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov.

The main card begins at 7.30am IST and the prelims start at 4.00am.

When and where to watch UFC 288 in India?

The LIVE coverage of UFC 288 - Sterling vs Cejudo will begin on Sony Sports Ten 2 & Sony Sports Ten 2 HD channels at 7:30 am IST on 7th May 2023, Sunday.

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