The bantamweight champion is ready for a blast from the past. Aljamain Sterling is set to defend his 135-pound title against former two-division champion and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo. The two will meet in the main event of UFC 288 in Newark, New Jersey on May 6, the promotion announced on Friday.
Sterling, 33, has made two successful defenses of the title since winning it in March 2021 by disqualification. He beat another former champion in TJ Dillashaw last October, but that fight was overshadowed by Dillashaw suffering a grotesque shoulder injury in the opening moments. He's won eight straight fights since losing by knockout to Marlon Moraes in 2017.
Cejudo, meanwhile, retired from competition in 2020 after scoring a TKO of Dominick Cruz. It was his only title defense after winning the vacant title with a TKO of Moraes. Cejudo scored one of the bigger upsets in recent memory when he outpointed Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson for the flyweight title in August 2018.
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The bantamweight belt will be on the line in New Jersey!! 🏆@FunkmasterMMA vs @HenryCejudo will officially be the #UFC288 main event!— UFC (@ufc) March 11, 2023
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There were rumblings of the fight, which had been discussed between the two sides for months, not happening and Sean O'Malley stepping in to face Sterling. Ultimately, all of those negotiations were finalized to allow the former champion to return from three years away and challenge for the title.