UFC 288 went down last night (Sat., May 6, 2023) inside Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., featuring a Bantamweight title fight that saw division champion, Aljamain Sterling, defeat Henry Cejudo via split decision (scorecards here). In the co-main event, Belal Muhammad took it to Gilbert Burns for 25 minutes to earn a unanimous decision win (recap here).
Biggest Winner: Aljamain Sterling
It wasn’t dominant, but Sterling did enough — at least in two judges’ eyes — to take home the split decision victory and his title. “Funkmaster” now has three straight title defenses in his back pocket, so his confidence has to be growing after each win. And he will need it at an all-time high when he takes on Sean O’Malley later this year for his fourth title defense. Cejudo is a tough draw for anyone, so this is a huge score for Sterling to put on his resume, despite what some naysayers may say about “Triple C’s” extended layoff potentially hindering his performance.
Runner Up: Belal Muhammad
All Muhammad does is keep on winning. By defeating Burns, “Remember The Name” won his ninth fight in his last 10 outings, with his lone blemish being a “No Contest” against current champion, Leon Edwards. Muhammad has firmly cemented himself as a title contender, but he will have to wait and see if, in fact, Colby Covington gets the next shot against “Rocky” ... after summer, of course. Nevertheless, Muhammad can take his time to see how the championship picture plays out in the coming months and enjoy his big win.
Biggest Loser: Kron Gracie
In one of the most bizarre performances inside the Octagon, Gracie left fight fans baffled with his output — or lack thereof — against Charles Jourdain. He wasn’t aggressive with anything, really, almost as if he didn’t want to be there. Perhaps this was an indicator at how interested he was with this event. But, aside from his poor performance after a four-year layoff, Gracie has now lost two straight fights inside the Octagon and something tells me the chances of seeing him in there again are pretty slim. It’s not like I knew this was the type of poor performance Gracie was going to show up with, but I personally had an issue with this fight being on the PPV main card instead of Dober vs. Frevola.
For complete UFC 288 results, coverage, and highlights click HERE.