Aljamain Sterling defeated Henry Cejudo by split decision in the main event of UFC 288 on Saturday night in Newark, N.J., to retain his bantamweight title.
Sterling took the cards 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 in the closely contested bout.
Cejudo had been the betting favorite coming into the fight.
“I wasn’t sure which way the decision was gonna go,” Sterling said. “I wish I could have done a little bit better but Henry’s a (expletive) dog, he’s a legend and it’s no easy task to run through him like I did everybody else.”
Sterling improved to 23-3 and Cejudo fell to 16-2.
Sterling landed more total strikes, 174-110 over Cejudo, including a 110-63 advantage in signature strikes.
Sterling won the 135-pound title via disqualification due to an illegal strike in a bout he was handily losing to Petr Yan in 2021. He solidified his claim to the crown by winning a rematch via split decision a year later.
Cejudo once held the bantamweight and flyweight titles, becoming one of just four UFC fighters to simultaneously hold belts in two divisions. But he abruptly retired at his peak in 2020, vacating both crowns.
In the previous bout, Belal Muhammad defeated Gilbert Burns by unanimous decision in their welterweight bout. Muhammad took the cards 50-45, 49-46, 49-46.
–Field Level Media