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UFC 288 Odds, Picks & Predictions For Sterling vs. Cejudo

Adam Martin for Bookies.com

Adam Martin  | 11 mins

UFC 288 Odds, Picks & Predictions For Sterling vs. Cejudo

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The Octagon heads to Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey this Saturday night for UFC 288: Sterling vs. Cejudo. The UFC bantamweight title is on the line in the main event when 135lbs champ Aljamain Sterling faces off against former champ Henry Cejudo. 

As well, there are 13 undercard bouts, bringing the total number of fights at UFC 288 to 14. In this week’s UFC picks here at Bookies.com, we’ll give our main event picks, plus picks for two undercard bouts.

Favorite Underdog
Aljamain Sterling | -120 Henry Cejudo | +100

Odds via DraftKings sportsbook and current as of publication. Check out our DraftKings sportsbook review.

UFC 288 Main Event Best Bet

Aljamain Sterling (-110) vs. Henry Cejudo (-110)

The main event of UFC Vegas 72 sees UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling put his belt on the line against the former champion, Henry Cejudo. The line is a Pick ‘em at sports betting sites, with both fighters available at -110 odds each, and I’m going with Cejudo to reclaim his old belt.

Sterling is the current champ and he is riding an eight-fight win streak at the moment with notable victories over Petr Yan, TJ Dillashaw, and Cory Sandhagen. The 33-year-old American has a 14-4 record in the UFC since first joining the promotion in 2014, and he’s fought elite competition the entire time. 

He is one of the best grapplers in the division and he’s also improved his striking over the years. Overall, he is the best 135lbs fighter in the UFC right now, and that’s why he enters this contest as the reigning and defending UFC bantamweight champ. He’s an incredible fighter, but he does face a difficult stylistic matchup in Cejudo in this fight.

Cejudo is the former champion as well as a former Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling. The 36-year-old American is returning to the Octagon for the first time since 2020 when he retired from the sport at the height of his career after he knocked out Dominick Cruz. 

Before his retirement to start a family, Cejudo had won five straight fights, including knockout wins over Cruz, TJ Dillashaw, and Marlon Moraes, plus a decision win over Demetrious Johnson during that stretch. Cejudo is as elite as it gets when it comes to wrestling, but what makes him special in MMA is that he also has knockout power in his limbs. 

He is truly an exceptional athlete, and if anyone is going to return to the cage after a long layoff and get a win, it’s someone like Cejudo.

This should be a great fight between two elite bantamweights, and the odds are a Pick ‘em for a reason, as both men have realistic paths to victory. But I’m going with Cejudo to get the win in his return to the Octagon at -110 odds. He is a special athlete and I see him coming back to the UFC and reclaiming his title with a knockout victory over Sterling in the main event of UFC 288.

UFC 288 Best Bet: Henry Cejudo wins at -110 at DraftKings Sportsbook

UFC 288 Best Prop Bet: Henry Cejudo wins by TKO at DraftKings Sportsbook

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Other UFC 288 Best Bets

Movsar Evloev (-255) vs. Bryce Mitchell (+215)

Also on the main card, Movsar Evloev fights Bryce Mitchell in the featherweight division. Evloev is a -255 favorite to win at UFC betting sites, and I like him to get the job done with another impressive victory.

Evloev joined the UFC in 2019 and he is a perfect 6-0 so far in the Octagon with all six wins coming by decision, including a notable win over Dan Ige in his last fight that helped Evloev break through into the top-15 rankings at 145lbs. The 29-year-old Russian is one of the best grapplers in the weight class and he has proven that by controlling all of his foes on the ground during his UFC career. 

He also has decent volume striking as well, although he hasn’t shown any power so far in the UFC. Really, he is a grappler by heart, and given how dominant he has been with his grappling skills so far in the Octagon, he’s one of the best grapplers in his division.

As for Mitchell, you can also say the same thing about him, as he’s shown he’s one of the featherweight division’s strongest grapplers. He’s 6-1 so far in the Octagon since joining the promotion in 2018, with all but one of his wins coming by decision. He has shown that he’s a strong grappler and he’s also improved his striking as well. 

That being said, we just saw him get controlled by a superior grappler in Ilia Topuria. The 28-year-old Mitchell still has untapped potential, but given his opponent matches up so well against him, this is a tough fight on paper.

I view Evloev as the superior mixed martial artist, and I do think he’s the better grappler as well in a fight that will likely take place on the ground for much of the time. Give me Evloev to win this fight as a -255 betting favorite, and give me Evloev to win this fight by decision.

UFC 288 Best Bet: Movsar Evloev wins at -255 at DraftKings Sportsbook

UFC 288 Best Prop Bet: Movsar Evloev wins by decision at DraftKings Sportsbook

UPDATE: This fight has been scratched due to Mitchell withdrawing from the bout. Evloev will stay on the card against short-notice replacement Diego Lopes. I expect Evloev to win this new fight, but the odds are going to be much higher now.

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Marina Rodriguez (-135) vs. Virna Jandiroba (+115)

On the prelims, Marina Rodriguez faces Virna Jandiroba in what should be an exciting women’s strawweight bout. Rodriguez is a -135 favorite, and I like her to win this fight.

Rodriguez is 6-2-2 in the UFC since joining the promotion in 2018. Since then, the 36-year-old Brazilian has been one of the best women’s strawweights in the weight class. She has defeated some of the best fighters in her division including Mackenzie Dern, Yan Xiaonan, and Tecia Torres, to name a few. 

Rodriguez is an excellent striker with power and she has been working hard to improve her ground game, especially defensively. She is one of the best fighters in her division right now despite suffering a brutal KO loss to Amanda Lemos in her last fight. 

Despite being one of the oldest fighters in her weight class, Rodrigues still has plenty of gas left in the tank, and she will solidify her spot as a top-10 strawweight fighter with a win over Jandiroba.

Jandiroba is 4-3 in the UFC since joining the organization in 2019. The 34-year-old Brazilian is known for her grappling skills, which have led to her winning two UFC fights by submission. She is also very tough and has quite a bit of experience in MMA. 

Her striking is not her strong suit, but her grappling is excellent and her ground skills are some of the best in the division. Overall, she is a solid fighter, but she lacks that X-factor, especially when it comes to her striking skills. 

She is able to grind out many of her opponents, but it won’t be easy to do that against someone like Rodriguez, who should be able to thwart her takedowns and keep this match on the feet.

Look for Rodriguez to keep this fight standing for the most part, and on the feet, she is the superior striker who throws more volume and more power. Give me Rodriguez to get her hand raised as a -135 betting apps favorite, and give me Rodriguez to win by decision for a prop bet.

UFC 288 Best Bet: Marina Rodriguez wins at -135 at DraftKings Sportsbook

UFC 288 Best Prop Bet: Marina Rodriguez wins by decision at DraftKings Sportsbook

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About the Author

Adam Martin for Bookies.com
Adam Martin
A writer based out of Toronto, Adam Martin has covered professional sports, with an emphasis on sports gambling, for more than a decade, writing for such outlets as The Toronto Star and Sportsnet. He is an expert in UFC, while also covering NHL betting and the Stanley Cup.