BT Sport beams UFC 288 live into British homes from Newark, New Jersey this weekend with the prelims starting around 23:00 BST on Saturday evening and the main event scheduled for 03:00 Sunday morning.
The promotion features co-headline contests in the shape of UFC bantamweight boss Aljamain Sterling versus former two weight champ Henry Cejudo and a welterweight face-off between Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns.
Our UFC 288 predictions for both matches suggest fans staying up into the wee small hours will be rewarded for their patience with those contests destined to go long.
UFC 288 best bets
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Match fit champ can enhance his resume at the expense of comeback kid
At the time of writing, reigning UFC bantamweight title holder Aljamain Sterling is trading as a narrow 20/21 outsider for this matchup – an assessment he has every right to be aggrieved by.
Henry Cejudo is a former UFC bantamweight and flyweight champion, not to mention a 2008 Olympic gold medallist freestyle wrestler in the 55kg category. However, he’s been out of the Octagon since May 9, 2020.
Cejudo’s return to action is reportedly a quest to reconnect with the drive and purpose he’s missed during retirement, but three years out is a long time in this most brutal of sports.
A hungry champion yet to be given his full due, Sterling is not the ideal dance partner for shaking off your ring rust. ‘Funk Master’ has won eight UFC matchups in a row, including three title fights. His engine cannot be disputed, with eight of his last 13 MMA fights having gone to the judges’ scorecards. ￼
More recently he’s demonstrated his staying power at five-round, championship level when taking the title off Peter Yan (courtesy of a fourth round DQ) and defending it in the rematch with a split-decision W.
Nine of Cejudo’s last 14 MMA outings have also gone to a decision, suggesting that if he returns to the Octagon at a similar level to where he was when he left it this bout is going long.
Ultimately Sterling has fought twice in the last year and that sharpness edge combined with the fact that he may still be on the upgrade gives him the edge against a high-calibre foe.
Best bet: Sterling to beat Cejudo on points @ 9/4
Duel of the decision machines surely destined to go the judges’ scorecards
Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns face off in a welterweight eliminator contest which should make the winner hard to ignore for a shot at Leon Edwards’ belt later in the year.
Muhammad is on a serious role, having won eight of his last nine fights. The only blot on that streak was a no contest against Edwards, called off for an accidental eye poke.
‘Remember The Name’ has now claimed 16 of his 22 career wins in MMA with decision verdicts, while an incredible 11 of his last 14 outings have gone the distance. Three of Burns’ last four have also been decided on the scorecards.
Durinho is the 4/5 favourite to win what is his third outing of 2023 but given Muhammad’s relentless style and the results it’s brought him this is an incredibly tough match to call.
The 8/11 about the fight going all the way won’t appeal to every bettor out there but given the fighters’ recent form it’s certainly a fair price.