Long Island native Aljamain Sterling retained his UFC Bantamweight Championship title for the third time in a nail-biting split decision victory over former double champ Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 in Newark, N.J.
The historic win solidified Sterling’s position as one of the best fighters in the game, making him the first bantamweight champ to successfully defend his title three times. The previous record was held by TJ Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz, who each had two successful title defenses.
One judge scored the fight 48-47 for Cejudo while the other two had 48-47 cards for Sterling.
Sterling’s impressive stats included landing 64% of his significant strikes with 135 and completing four takedowns out of 15 attempts. Cejudo, on the other hand, only landed 99 significant strikes and had 3-of-8 takedowns.
After the fight, Sterling gave Cejudo props, stating “Man, I wish I could’ve done a little better, but Henry is a f—ing dog, he’s a legend, and it is no easy task to run through him like I did everyone else.”
In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, the Uniondale native wasted no time calling out rising star Sean O’Malley, challenging him to a fight. O’Malley even entered the cage to face off against Sterling and exchange some heated words with him. The two discussed the possibility of fighting in September.
Sterling showcased his impressive skills and determination to make Cejudo regret calling him out during an open workout for the public on April 28. The champ trained hard at LAW MMA in Garden City alongside teammate Matt Frevola of Huntington, who also won his fight on the UFC 288 card by first round TKO over Drew Dober.
Following his victory, Sterling expressed his excitement to celebrate back on Long Island, where he plans to hit up hotspots like RVC or Johnny McGorey’s Pub in Massapequa. With Sterling and Frevola representing Long Island on the UFC stage, fans in the area can be sure to continue cheering them on as they dominate in the octagon.
Top: Aljamain Sterling, of Long Island, kicks Henry Cejudo during the fifth round of a bantamweight title bout at the UFC 288 mixed martial arts event Sunday, May 7, 2023 in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)