With important fights in two different promotions coming up this weekend, I thought it would be good to take a step back, and breakdown some of the upcoming events.

UFC 288

Reigning champion Aljamain Sterling is set to defend his 135lb belt against former two division champion and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo this weekend as the main event for UFC 288. It’s an interesting matchup between the two, reflected in the odds in which Cejudo opened as the favorite but is expected to close as a slight underdog or at least a pick ’em. Cejudo definitely owns the more well rounded game, with crisp striking and an Olympic gold in wrestling, but Aljo is the bigger man, supposedly walking around at close to 170lb and boasting a seven inch reach advantage, with a dangerous ground and submission game. Cejudo is also coming off a nearly three year layoff after defeating Dominick Cruz and announcing retirement. While this lack of activity is almost never a good sign, particularly in your 30s, Cejudo has always been known for his excenllent game planning and is very unlikely to come unprepared for Saturday night’s bout. That being said, I think Aljo gets it done again. Cejudo has never fought as big of an opponent who was also such a great grappler, and Sterling, while known to be pillow-fisted, has a strange style on the feet and will be able to poke at him using his significant reach advantage. If it gets to the ground, Sterling might be the best in the business at attacking the back, and he is content to ride out entire rounds that way if the submission isn’t there.

Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad

The co-main this week features 170 pounders Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad in what is likely to be a title eliminator for the welterweight division. Despite near even betting odds, I just don’t see a path to victory for Belal here. Burns is better on the feet and better on the ground, and while Belal may have a slight advantage in the wrestling, even Khamzat Chimaev, one of the most dangerous wrestlers the promotion has ever seen, didn’t try to wrestle much with Burns, fearing a submission from the former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion. With a victory, Burns would almost certainly be next in line for a title shot against the winner of Leon Edwards vs Colby Covington.

ONE comes to America

Friday evening will feature ONE Championship’s first event in America and they’ve really stacked the card for us. Founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong has been making media rounds recently, talking about how important it is for the Singapore based promotion to break through with American audiences, and this card is about as good as it can get. ONE doesn’t only put on MMA, but also Muay Thai and grappling bouts, and this is reflected in three top billed fights. It also features slightly different rules for its bouts that prioritize putting on exciting fights and going for the finish. The main event features the rubber match between flyweight GOAT Demetrious Johnson and Adriano Moraes. The co-main features one of the most exciting combat sports athletes in the world, Rodtang Jitmuangnon, against Edgar Taberes. And the third bout is the flyweight grappling championship featuring Mikey Musumeci vs Osamah Almarwai.

If you aren’t familiar with ONE, I highly recommend you check out this weekend’s card. They always put on a great show, it’s on Friday so it won’t interfere with UFC, and most importantly every event is FREE with Amazon Prime. The card starts at 8pm EST, don’t miss it.

Feel free to leave a comment below on who you think wins on this weekend’s card, whether you think DJ is the real GOAT of the sport, if you prefer the ONE or UFC ruleset and judging criteria, etc.

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