Yo, listen up, because I got some big news for you. The champ, Aljamain Sterling, is still on top. That’s right, “The Funkmaster” showed everyone why he’s the best, notching his third straight win in the UFC bantamweight title on Saturday. He took on Henry Cejudo and came out on top with a split decision in the main event of UFC 288. And let me tell you, he shut down Cejudo’s comeback plans and proved that he’s the king of the bantamweight division.
Now, I know some of you might be wondering why Sterling’s reign has been so polarizing. But let me tell you, this guy is something special. His style may not be pretty, but it gets the job done. And his resume is impressive, even with all the footnotes. He’s the most successful fighter from the northeastern scene, and he’s got the record to prove it. Sterling now owns three significant divisional records, including the most wins in UFC bantamweight history, the longest win streak, and the most consecutive title defenses. It’s all thanks to “The Funkmaster.”
But here’s the thing, some people still doubt Sterling. Even after he beat Cejudo, critics still have something to say. But the fact is, Sterling is one of the most underrated talents in MMA, and he’s accomplished so much. He may not be everyone’s favorite fighter, but you can’t deny his skills. And if he can secure the bag against Sean O’Malley and add one more title defense to his record before moving up to 145 pounds, he’ll have an unbeatable Wikipedia page.
And let me give a shoutout to Sterling’s teammate Merab Dvalishvili. This guy is a king, stealing O’Malley’s Thriller jacket during the commotion caused by Sterling and O’Malley’s in-cage faceoff. That video is hilarious, and it just shows that Sterling has a team of warriors behind him.
Now onto number 2- Belal Muhammad. This guy risked five years of momentum by taking on Gilbert Burns on short notice and with a bum ankle. But he still managed to win, and now he’s the proper No. 1 contender. And he deserves all the respect in the world. Dana White already confirmed that Muhammad locked in his place against the winner of Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington. That fight likely won’t be happening until October or November, so Muhammad is staring at a layoff until the first quarter of 2024. But let me tell you, he’s still a fighter to be reckoned with, and if you’re still denying him at this point, you’re just a hater.
And let’s not forget about Yan Xiaonan. She just gave the UFC the biggest gift imaginable with her one-shot knockout win. That was the most explosive highlight of Saturday’s pay-per-view card, and it sets up a potential monster main event for a UFC business trip to China. Strawweight is in a rare spot right now without a clear No. 1 contender, so the UFC must be thanking the blood gods to have a matchup like this fall right into their laps.
Now, let’s talk about Kron Gracie. It may be the last time we see him in the UFC. The former jiu-jitsu champ wasn’t able to adjust to the MMA game, and his dedication to an old-school game two decades past its sell-by date was unwavering in the year of our Lord 2023. But before we say goodbye to Ice Cream Kron for good, let’s see him take on Ryan Hall in a matchup that could go either one of three ways.
Overall, UFC 288 was a night to remember, and Aljamain Sterling proved that he’s still the king of the bantamweight division. While some may doubt him, his record speaks for itself. And with fighters like Belal Muhammad and Yan Xiaonan rising up, the UFC has a bright future ahead. Keep watching, because the best is yet to come.
UFC 288 takeaways: Aljamain Sterling, Belal Muhammad deserve respect amid MMA’s endless sea of negativity