While not totally official, it’s looking like UFC 288 will be booked for May 6 in a location yet to be determined. The fight card will supposedly be headlined by two eye-popping bouts: Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush as the co-main, and Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo for the UFC Bantamweight Championship as the main event.
The Return of Do Bronx
This event will be the first fight for Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira since he lost the lightweight championship to Islam Makhachev in UFC 280 in October of 2022. That was a disappointing outing for Oliveira, who had previously struck fear throughout the lightweight division with his masterful submission grappling. He was quickly submitted by Makhachev in the second round with an arm-triangle choke.
Now he returns to the octagon looking to redeem his respect in the lightweight division. He does so against a formidable opponent. Dariush enters this bout on an eight-fight win streak, previously securing a decision against Mateusz Gamrot in UFC 280.
Due to the resumes of these two fighters, it’s likely whoever wins this fight will get a shot at Islam Makhachev for the lightweight championship. Makhachev previously defended his belt against Alexander Volkanovski, who moved up a weight class in hopes of becoming a double-champ. Makhachev defeated the Australian in a unanimous decision.
The Funk Master vs. Triple C
It’s rare that Oliveira is not the headliner, but with this main event it makes sense. “Funk Master” Aljamain Sterling will take on Henry “Triple C” Cejudo for the bantamweight championship. Sterling looks to defend his belt against Cejudo, who is a UFC legend. Cejudo is a combat sports legend, being an Olympic gold-medalist in wrestling and former UFC “champ champ,” meaning champion of two separate weight divisions simultaneously.
Sterling acquired the belt against Petr Yan in 2021 due to being struck by a grounded knee from Yan. Many called out Sterling for the way he played up the strike, seemingly being unable to fight which resulted in Yan’s disqualification. However, Sterling has somewhat legitimized his title since, after defeating Yan in a rematch and then defended the belt once again by submitting TJ Dillashaw.
But Sterling still faces critics even after those wins. Dillashaw entered the title fight with an injured shoulder and was clearly labored as Sterling dominated him on the ground. As a result, many still object to Sterling’s championship. But if he beats the legendary Cejudo in May, there will be no questioning his greatness.