UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling’s recent social media posts suggests that Henry Cejudo is out and Sean O’Malley is in to face him at UFC 288.
The news comes after both Sterling and O’Malley have agreed in principle to face each other at the event. Sterling is making the third defense of his title, and is coming off a dominant win over TJ Dillashaw . O’Malley is the #1 ranked fighter at bantamweight, and is coming off a controversial points win over former champion Petr Yan at UFC 280.
Considering O’Malley’s rising star power and high ranking, it seemed he was destined for a title shot in short order. This does put a damper on the hopes of many of seeing Cejudo return. The former bantamweight champion retired after a win against Dominck Cruz, though doubters believed it was just a ploy to get a better contract with the UFC.
While O’Malley has yet to be confirmed for the event, he has previously disclosed that he won’t accept a back-up role for the proposed Sterling vs. Cejudo fight should it come to fruition.
UFC 288 will feature several crossroad fights
Whoever appears to challenge Sterling at UFC 288, it still feeds into the subtext of this being a crossroads card.
Former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira makes his return to the octagon since his loss to Islam Makhachev. He faces off against the dangerous and surging Beneil Dariush, with the winner likely to face Makhachev by the end of the year.
Bryce Mitchell will also need to rebound after losing to Ilia Topruia at UFC 282. He’ll face Jonathan Pearce, who has won his last five in a row.
Another interesting addition to the card is the return of Kron Gracie, who has been out of action since a loss to Cub Swanson three years ago. He’s being set up for a soft landing back in the UFC against Charles Jourdain, who has gone 3-3 in his last six.
Regardless of who will be in the main event, UFC 288 remains scheduled for May 6 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.