UFC 288 was a massive success. Here, we'll talk about the UFC fight results, what should be next, and an overall observation of the landscape in the wake of this weekend.
The main event for UFC 288 absolutely delivered. I mean, so did about every other fight on the main card, but let's talk about the main event before we dive into the event as a whole. Aljamain Sterling kept hold of his bantamweight title at the expense of Henry Cejudo's attempt of reclaiming gold.
This main event was incredibly close. If you followed along with my live coverage, you'll know that, in the moment, I had Cejudo up. However, this was in no way a robbery; Sterling and Cejudo both did incredible and put it all on the line for this, a fight that'll age well as the bantamweight division's story continues. Let's talk about what should be next for the division.
UFC Fight Results: Sterling keeps His Belt and Will Move Forward
And still! Sterling, as a slight underdog, got things done in his backyard. It wasn't as easy as he said it was going to be, but honestly, this is probably the type of fight he was expecting and preparing for. The two gave it their all and gave us a fight that we'll be talking about for some time to come.
So, since ‘Funk Master' still holds the belt, who's next to challenge for it? It's obvious: Sean O'Malley. 16-1(depending on who you ask), a huge name in the division, and a rightful contender — not only does O'Malley deserve Sterling, but Sterling deserves O'Malley. This will be a huge bantamweight clash and the world will be watching.
The only other person in the picture is the champ's teammate, Merab Dvalishvili. Growing up on Pixar movies, I know that the only thing more important than legacy is friendship. Merab and Aljamain think so, too. Usman vs Burns and Masvidal vs Covington were fights made between training partners/(former) friends. It's looking like we will not see “Sterling vs Dvalishvili” added to that genre of fights.
‘Suga' was brought into the cage, faced off with Sterling, and pretty much sealed the deal on them fighting next. During the post fight press conference, O'Malley gave the media some of his time and he was asked where he thinks he'll find success against Sterling:
“You know, the way I beat Aljo is [a] focused 25-minites, disciplined, straight punches… I don't want to give away too much, but, you know, Aljo's beatable. He's very beatable. I thought he lost tonight.”
Sterling was also asked about his thoughts on the pending O'Malley fight, and he was eager to let us know what he thinks:
“My thought on Sean O'Malley is that motherf*cker is frail! Frail… If I can take down a short, stocky guy like Henry, who's actually a gold medalist and has good takedown defense, what am I gonna do to Sean O'Malley? Let's be honest here guys, like, yeah, he's been offered a title shot. He opted not to take the title shot and gave Henry a chance to come back and chase history. I beat Henry. Now there's no more running.”
Hopefully this fight is booked soon, because I can't wait!
What's Next For ‘Triple C'?
Obviously not the outcome Cejudo wanted. And, in his post-fight interview, it seemed that he was unsure of whether or not he'd like to continue. Since then, the former champ has called out the aforementioned Merab Dvalishvili. Merab, as mentioned, is the number one contender.
— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) May 8, 2023
This fight makes so much sense. He's been saying it for awhile, but he elaborated while doing his pre-fight media. Sterling wants one more at 135lbs, then he'll go up to featherweight. This gives Merab the chance to solidify his spot at the top without having to fight his friend, and it gives Cejudo a great rebound fight with title implications looking large.
But, if Henry uses his UFC 288 paycheck to overstock on food and he chooses to go up to featherweight now instead of later, a bout against Max Holloway or the Korean Zombie would peak the interest of anyone who's every watched a punch.
UFC fight results: Belal Muhammad Deserves Gold Next
Leon Edwards or Colby Covington — whoever has it, Belal Muhammad deserve to fight against the title holder next. Of course, Edwards is the current champion after beating Kamaru Usman twice in a row. Dana White is adamant that Covington fights for the title next. So, whoever walks away with a belt in that bout should immediately think of Belal.
Muhammad was able to kick his way to a win against Gilbert Burns at UFC 288. Gilbert's strength of schedule has been a very admirable one, but you can't win them all. He lost this fight to a very poised and motivated Belal ‘Remember the Name' Muhammad. Nobody can deny him any longer, Belal will fight for a title next.
UFC fight results: Yan Xiaonan Wins – Weili Zhang Next?
Yan Xiaonan made quick work of the former champion, Jessica Andrade. In doing so, Yan now has eight wins by KO/TKO and a two-fight winning streak. In this very impressive win, the 33-year-old let the world know that he's got what it takes to stop some of the best girls out there.
At the moment, there are no better girls than Weili Zhang at strawweight. She's a two-time champion and she needs a dance partner. Both of these girls represent China, and both took out Andrade in the first round. Well, the UFC only has room for one Chinese strawweight champion that can beat Jessica Andrade in under five-minutes, so they should fight about it.