UFC 288 was quite a success, according to Henry Cejudo’s coach, Eric Albarracin.
Headlining the promotion’s return to Newark, N.J., was a highly-anticipated Bantamweight title affair, pitting the reigning champion, Aljamain Sterling, against the returning former two-division titlist, Cejudo. The bout lived up to the hype as both elite-level competitors displayed their excellent skillsets, resulting in a Sterling split decision victory.
Sterling surprisingly found himself on the receiving end of boos from the fans on the night despite being somewhat of a hometown fighter. In terms of numbers, Cejudo’s coach, Albarracin, claims the business side delivered, arguing a case for his fighter to get a rematch down the line.
“I’m from New York. You know why they’re booing you? Because they thought you lost!” Albarracin told The MMA Hour. “That’s why they’re booing you. And now you’re trying to benefit off the cringe? Are you serious? You know how many pay-per-views he got? Seven hundred thousand. He needs to be thanking us. He never even got over 200,000 on a pay-per-view. This one was 700,000, which is more than double of anything he ever got.”
Catching wind of numbers from his sources, Sterling didn’t see things aligning with Albarracin’s 700,000. The champion quickly attempted to clear the air before Albarracin responded with an unofficial screenshot of how the event did.
“I was told yesterday we’d be lucky to break 250k PPV buys and you’re going on air to lie that you know for certain that we made 700,000 buys?!” Sterling tweeted. “Are you on the bottle this afternoon bro?? Stop the CAP”
Going forward, it looks like Cejudo intends to stick around after all. “Triple C” was originally unsure if he’d go back into retirement or not after his defeat this past weekend (May 6, 2023). He now sets his sights on the No. 1-ranked Bantamweight contender and best friend of Sterling’s, Merab Dvalishvili. Ideally, that fight can be made on the same night as the targeted next title fight between Sterling and No. 2-ranked contender, Sean O’Malley.
“That storyline, you saw him call him out at the press conference — there it is,” Albarracin said. “No. 1 contender. If Sean O’Malley wins, boom, we fight Sean O’Malley. If ‘Aljo’ wins and goes up, we’re fighting for the title still. Or maybe they don’t fight on the same card and Merab and Henry fight for the title, if it’s not on the same card in Boston.”
For complete UFC 288 results, coverage and highlights click HERE.