In our UFC 288 preview, we break down the fights on the event’s main card. The event is headlined by the return of Henry Cejudo, as he challenges for Aljamain Sterling’s bantamweight strap. Cejudo hasn’t fought for over three years, while Sterling is on an eight-fight win streak. The event also features an intriguing co-main between Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammed. Let’s get into our UFC 288 preview.
Our UFC 288 Preview for the Main Event: Henry Cejudo vs. Aljamain Sterling
Cejudo is a very well-rounded fighter, with excellent striking and world-class wrestling. However, he hasn’t fought for a long time. At his peak, it would be difficult to argue that Sterling could have beaten him. That being said, no one knows how Cejudo will look when he come back after three years away from the Octagon. Cejudo seems to be in good shape, and he’s been training hard for a while. However, he might not be able to match Sterling in striking considering his age. If he can outwrestle Sterling, he still has a clear path to a decision victory.
Sterling is best-known for his striking, but his last few fights have shown that he’s also an elite wrestler. As strange as it sounds considering Sterling’s #9 ranking in the P4P chart, his overall game may still be a little underrated. He’s on an absolute tear, and he’s facing a guy who hasn’t fought for over three years. As long as he can avoid being dominated by Cejudo on the ground, Sterling has a clear path to victory. After all, his striking should be sharper than Cejudo’s.
Prediction: Sterling by decision
Co-Main Event: Gilbert Burns vs. Belal Muhammed
Gilbert Burns makes a quick turnaround from his fight against Jorge Masvidal on UFC 287. Belal Muhammed has a lengthy win streak, and this fight is certainly a title eliminator. Both Muhammed and Burns have extremely strong ground games. It seems likely that their ground games will cancel each other out, leading to the fight taking place mostly on the feet. Muhammed has a higher output, but Burns has more power. As long as Muhammed avoids Burns’ biggest shots, he should be able to win a decision.
Prediction: Muhammed by decision
Jessica Andrade vs. Yan Xionan
Jessica Andrade and Yan Xionan match up in a likely title eliminator. With Andrade’s experience, it’s not hard to see why she’s a significant betting favorite. Andrade has powerful striking, but outwrestling Xionan seems to be the clearest path to victory for her. Xionan can win by picking Andrade apart at distance, though this certainly easier said than done.
Prediction: Andrade by submission
Movsar Evloev vs. Diego Lopes
Bryce Mitchell was originally scheduled to face Evloev, but he turned purple. The little-known Diego Lopes steps in on short notice, though he’s a huge underdog. Evloev is undefeated as a professional, while Lopes has a 21-5 record and previously failed to get a UFC contract through Dana White’s Contender Series.
Prediction: Evloev by KO/TKO
Kron Gracie vs. Charles Jourdain
Kron Gracie gets a main event slot on the strength of his name, though he hasn’t fought in three and a half years. That was a Fight of the Night match against Cub Swanson, which Gracie lost by decision. Nevertheless, Gracie’s submission game is absolutely deadly. He’s facing Charles Jourdain, an exciting fighter who is coming off back-to-back losses. Given Jourdain’s clear striking superiority and unquestionably high level of motivation (a loss would probably see him cut from the UFC), he’s a clear favorite to win.
Prediction: Jourdain by KO/TKO
UFC 288 Preview: The Best Bet on the Card
While not the most spectacular lineup of fights, UFC 288 is full of intriguing matchups. There are several places in which sports bettors can find value on this card, though our best bet is Charles Jourdain by KO/TKO (currently around +155). Thanks for reading our UFC 288 preview.