Long Island native Aljamain Sterling retained his UFC bantamweight title for the third time at UFC 288 in Newark, New Jersey, defeating former double-champion Henry Cejudo in a furious split decider
The historic win cemented Sterling’s status as one of the best fighters in the game, making him the first bantamweight champion to successfully defend his title three times. The previous record was held by TJ Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz, who each successfully defended their title twice.
After the game, Sterling praised Cejudo, saying: “Man, I wish I could have done a little bit better, but Henry is a dog, he’s a legend, it’s not like I go through him like I do everyone. An easy thing else.”
Sterling’s impressive stats include him hitting 64 percent of his 135 attempts and completing four knockouts in 15 attempts. Cejudo, on the other hand, scored just 99 big strikes and had 3 for 8 knockouts.
In his post-match interview with Joe Rogan, the Uniondale native didn’t hesitate to call up rising star Sean O’Malley and challenge him. O’Malley even went into the cage to confront Sterling and had a heated conversation with him. The two discussed the possibility of fighting in September.
Sterling displayed his impressive skill and determination, making Cejudo regret sending him out in open training on April 28. The champion trained hard at LAW MMA in Garden City with Huntington’s teammate Matt Frevola, who also won a UFC fight with 288 cards and a first-round TKO win over Drew Dober.
After the win, Sterling expressed his excitement to return to Long Island to celebrate, where he plans to head to hotspots like the RVC or Johnny McGorey’s Pub in Massapequa. With Sterling and Frevola representing Long Island on the UFC stage, fans in the region will surely continue to cheer for their dominance in the Octagon.
Above: Aljamain Sterling of Long Island defeats Henry Cejudo (AP) in a fifth round bantamweight title fight at UFC 288 mixed martial arts on Sunday, May 7, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. Agency photo/Frank Franklin II)