UFC 288 takes place Saturday evening at Prudential Center (Newark, NJ) with a solid card on the schedule. It was a busy month of April in UFC, so this is sort of an under-the-radar event.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some great pairings in Newark, including a bout to settle the bantamweight title. Looking at each of the bouts is one way to break down this event, but there is also a big news story that will impact the fight schedule.
Mitchell Out of UFC 288
While Bryce Mitchell was supposed to take part in a featherweight bout at UFC 288, he withdrew due an undisclosed injury. Movsar Evloev (16-0-0) was the scheduled opponent.
Diego Lopes now jumps into the Octagon to oppose Evloev, while still relatively new to UFC. Lopes has a record of 21-5 overall, but all of those victories came in the Lux Fight League.
Evloev has a 6-0 record in UFC-sanctioned events as part of an aforementioned 16-0 slate, on the path to a title shot if he continues to compile the wins.
UFC seems to do a great job of finding foes on short notice, with Lopes the latest example.
Sterling vs. Cejudo Odds
Bantamweight will slug it out Saturday evening. Aljamain Sterling takes on Henry Cejudo with the title on the line. Cejudo is set to make his return to UFC after nearly three years away, and is currently the betting favorite (-120) to get that done, according to UFC 288 odds.
Sterling is holding the title through some unusual circumstances. He’s been able to defend that title a few times. This will be his toughest challenge to this point.
Sean O’Malley is supposedly going to be in attendance at UFC 288, and he could be the next opponent if Cejudo comes away with a win. A loss by Cejudo would largely go unnoticed by UFC fans, but a win could lead to other huge bouts as 2023 progresses.
…and Muhammad vs. Burns
As was mentioned, UFC seems to be able to throw good fights together on short notice. That’s what is happening in this situation, as Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns are both looking at a chance to have a title fight in the future.
The winner will get a shot at the welterweight title, with no timetable until later. Muhammad wasn’t expected to fight at this event, but he did accelerate his training to make it happen.
Burns was ready, though his contender wasn’t named until a couple of weeks ago. This is being billed as a co-main event, and may be as exciting as any bout on the program. There are some detractors, however.
There is value to be had on either to win Performance of the Night, as per UFC 288 specials.
Andrade is Back
This time around, Yan Xiaonan will be the opponent. There won’t be much focus or attention paid to her performance. Continuing to take on other weight-class challengers has caused Andrade some trouble, however.
There’s a chance Andrade will be given another title chance at some point, but she needs to dominate in this bout.