It had been three years since Henry Cejudo's last appearance in the octagon, but the former Olympic wrestler and UFC champion quickly made his way back to the top with a shot at Aljamain Sterling's bantamweight title. Despite Cejudo's confidence in dethroning Sterling, the defending champion emerged victorious after a grueling five-round battle at UFC 288.
Round 1: Cejudo Imposes Wrestling Dominance The first round saw Sterling quickly discovering the formidable wrestling skills of Cejudo, who easily took the challenger down in a clinch. Sterling managed to get back on his feet and traded blows with Cejudo in the center of the octagon.
The round ended with Sterling landing two knockdowns and a flurry of strikes against the cage. Round 2: Equally Matched Stand-Up Exchange The second round started with Sterling landing a series of kicks, but Cejudo countered with crisp boxing combinations.
Cejudo's strikes appeared more precise, while Sterling continued to attack with kicks. Cejudo fended off a takedown attempt by Sterling, and by the end of the round, Cejudo landed a strong right hand. Round 3: Sterling's Takedowns Prove Decisive The third round saw Sterling trying to keep Cejudo at bay with a series of left kicks, but Cejudo retaliated with a flying knee attempt.
Sterling managed to score a takedown after struggling to establish control on the feet, but Cejudo quickly got back up. The round ended with Cejudo taking Sterling down from a clinch and securing a dominant ground position.
Round 4: Close Stand-Up Exchange The fourth round saw Cejudo continuing to apply pressure, with Sterling responding with a mixture of kicks and left hooks. Cejudo attempted a takedown, but Sterling defended it and ended the round with a double-leg takedown of his own.
Round 5: Sterling Edges Out Close Final Round The final round was a close battle, with both fighters trading blows and attempting takedowns. The judges ultimately favored Sterling, who won by split decision and retained his bantamweight title for the third time.
Sterling extends his winning streak to nine, while Cejudo will have to regroup after the close loss. In the aftermath of the fight, Sean O'Malley made a lively appearance in the octagon, potentially setting up the next challenge for Sterling's bantamweight crown.
A Thrilling Championship Bout
The main event of UFC 288 was a thrilling championship bout between two highly skilled bantamweights. Cejudo and Sterling put on a five-round battle that showcased their striking and grappling skills.
In the end, Sterling emerged victorious, defending his title and keeping his winning streak alive. Despite the loss, Cejudo can hold his head high after a strong performance in his comeback fight.