Former two-division champion Henry Cejudo, returning to the UFC after a three-year absence, misplaced by break up resolution to Sterling.
Aljamain Sterling has defeated Henry Cejudo by break up resolution in the primary occasion of UFC 288 in Newark, New Jersey, to retain his bantamweight title and doubtlessly ship the previous UFC two-division champion again into retirement.
Sterling took the playing cards 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 within the carefully contested bout on Saturday night.
Cejudo, returning to the octagon after a three-year absence, had been the betting favorite coming into the battle.
“I wasn’t positive which approach the choice was gonna go,” Sterling mentioned. “I want I might have performed slightly bit higher however Henry’s a [expletive] canine, he’s a legend and it’s no straightforward job to run by him like I did all people else.”
He improved to 23-3 and Cejudo fell to 16-2.
Sterling, 33, landed extra whole strikes, 174-110 over Cejudo, together with a 110-63 benefit in signature strikes.
Sterling received the 135-pound title by way of disqualification as a consequence of an unlawful strike in a bout he was handily shedding to Petr Yan in 2021. He solidified his declare to the crown by profitable a rematch by way of break up resolution a yr later.
Bantamweight challenger Sean O’Malley stepped contained in the cage after Sterling’s victory on Saturday, stripped off his jacket and stood nose-to-nose with him as the 2 fighters launched into profanity-laced tirades towards one another and ultimately wanted to be separated.
They may get their championship match later this summer season. UFC President Dana White wished Sterling-O’Malley to battle in August in Boston – and never late night time in New Jersey.
Cejudo, 36, is the one individual to win an Olympic gold medal and a UFC titles. He as soon as held the bantamweight and flyweight titles – turning into one among simply 4 UFC fighters to concurrently maintain belts in two divisions. However he abruptly retired at his peak in 2020, vacating each crowns.
Cejudo mentioned he was a “little confused” about his future plans and would return dwelling to his household – his spouse is anticipating the couple’s second little one – and suppose onerous about his battle future. He was wildly cheered by all 5 rounds by 17,559 followers that paid to look at Cejudo attempt to flip again the clock.
“Who is aware of, this can be the final time within the octagon,” he mentioned.
Sterling, a Lengthy Island, New York native, efficiently defended the bantamweight championship for a report third time.
Earlier within the night, Belal Muhammad (23-3, 1 NC) landed sufficient stiff kicks to Gilbert Burns’ higher physique to earn a unanimous resolution victory within the 170-pound five-round battle.
Muhammad and Burns exchanged a number of kicks within the third and the group let the fighters have it on the finish of one other spherical on the cardboard that suffered from a deficiency of sustained motion. Burns appeared to harm his left shoulder on a failed takedown try and couldn’t muster a lot offence, one cause for a methodical tempo.
Muhammad was booed when he was introduced because the 50-45, 49-46, 49-46 winner after which advised the group, “New Jersey, you suck.”
The win stamped Muhammad – who took the battle on simply over two-weeks’ discover and prolonged his profitable streak to 5 and his unbeaten streak to 10 straight fights – as a prime contender for a title shot towards Leon Edwards.
Movsar Evloev defeated Diego Lopes by unanimous resolution in a battle Lopes accepted on five-days discover after an harm compelled Bryce Mitchell to drop out. Yan Xiaonan clobbered former UFC strawweight champion Jéssica Andrade with an enormous proper and pounded away at her fallen foe for a TKO victory at 2:20 of the primary spherical.
Yan’s victory might set her up for a 115-pound championship match towards fellow Chinese language fighter Zhang Weili.