UFC 288 went down last night (Sat., May 6, 2023) inside Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., which saw Aljamain Sterling defeating Henry Cejudo via razor-thin split decision after a back-and-forth scrap to retain his Bantamweight belt (recap). In the co-headlining act, Belal Muhammad earned a unanimous decision win over Gilbert Burns after sweeping all five rounds (relive it here).
Winner: Aljamain Sterling
Who He Should Face Next: Sean O’Malley
After Sterling edged out Cejudo, O’Malley stepped into the Octagon and he and “Funkmaster” started the trash-talking and promotion for their eventual championship scrap straight away. Merab Dvalshvilli — who is actually ranked No. 1 — won’t face his teammate, Sterling, so this is the title fight that will happen next, possibly at the year-end pay-per-view (PPV) event. It’s a great stylistic match up, but O’Malley is going to have to be on his “A” game if he wants to dethrone Sterling, who looked good against the former “champ-champ.”
Winner: Belal Muhammad
Who He Should Face Next: Title shot
Leon Edwards doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to give Colby Covington his shot at the title, saying he will likely wait till late 2023 to make his return to action. If “Chaos” grows impatient, he can always face Muhammad, but I highly doubt he will do that unless UFC forces him to. Dana White recently stated that Khamzat Chimaev is going through personal things that are preventing him from competing, so that fight is off the table for Muhammad, as well. All that said, it seems “Remember The Name” will simply have to wait to see what happens between Edwards and Covington to see who his next opponent will be.
Winner: Yan Xiaonan
Who She Should Face Next: Rose Namajunas
Xiaonan scored a huge win by knocking out Jessica Andrade in the very first round to earn her second straight win. The win will definitely put her in the Top 5, but she could still need one more win to earn a shot at the title because, in my opinion, Amanda Lemos is ahead of her in the championship race. I am feeling a fight against former champion, Namajunas, next. “Thug Rose” is currently ranked No. 2 and lost the title to Carla Esparza more than one year ago, so she should be gearing up for a return pretty soon.
Winner: Movsar Evloev
Who He Should Face Next: Bryce Mitchell
It took him 15 minutes, but Evloev managed to defeat late replacement, Diego Lopes, via unanimous decision, though Lopes gave Evloev all he could handle. Evloev was originally set to face Mitchell at this event, but “Thug Nasty” was pulled a few days from the event under mysterious circumstances. If all is well with Mitchell, it only makes sense to re-book the fight sooner rather than later. Evloev improved to 17-0, which includes 7-0 inside the Octagon.
Winner: Charles Jourdain
Who He Should Face Next: Steve Garcia
Jourdain got back on the winning track by scoring a bizarre unanimous decision win over a disinterested Kron Gracie. Jourdan tried to bring the fight, but Gracie just wasn’t in the mood to be in the Octagon, it seemed. Nevertheless, Jourdain is back in the win column and a fight against Garcia could be on the horizon. Garcia is currently on a two-fight win streak and was last seen knocking out Shayilan Nuerdanbieke at UFC 287 last month.
For complete UFC 288 results, coverage, and highlights click HERE.