The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey is the host of UFC 288 on Saturday, May 6. Of course, the headliner bout is between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo. For free UFC 288 betting picks on the main event and others, you’ll want to keep reading. We’re confident these choices could get you paid by the end of the card!
Sterling vs. Cejudo Betting Pick
Despite owning the bantamweight championship, Sterling still isn’t getting much credit from fans and bookies alike. Sterling is a marginal betting favorite against the returning-from-retirement Cejudo (who hasn’t fought in three years). Here are the Cejudo-Sterling moneyline odds, per the top-used betting sites for the UFC:
Ever since Sterling first won the title from Petr Yan, he’s gotten on the bad side of UFC enthusiasts. He won the championship by disqualification, which started this negative reaction. But even after beating Yan cleanly in the rematch and then dominating TJ Dillashaw (who had an injured shoulder) in another title defense, many bettors still think Sterling is a fluke. We have to disagree with that sentiment (which we’ll get to shortly).
Cejudo is soaking up the attention here, as he should be. He’s one of the promotion’s most talented wrestlers in history. The 2008 gold medalist was a two-division champion — first at flyweight then bantamweight. Cejudo never lost either belt and retired at 33 years old with no mountains left to climb. But the challenge of winning a title fight at 36 years old has brought him back.
This match, almost surely, will be mat-based. Both fighters are wrestlers at their core, especially the Olympian Cejudo. Look, an in-his-prime Cejudo without question is the better wrestler. But that’s the all-important question: is this the same Cejudo of old? This sport is unkind to inactivity in the ring, and three years is huge at Cejudo’s age.
There’s too much unknown about Cejudo for us to back him with a bet here. We expect to see drop-offs in his speed, reaction time, endurance, and so forth. Plus, one huge advantage Sterling has going for him is reach. He has seven inches on the challenger. Sterling should be able to outstrike him and even on the ground, Cejudo will struggle to hold him down. Our money says Sterling squeaks out a decision win.
Gilbert Burns vs. Belal Muhammad Betting Pick
This is a last-minute fight thrown together after the prior semi-main event was canceled due to Charles Oliveira having to be forced out due to injury. Regardless, it’s a pretty even fight among two welterweights with a guaranteed title shot on the line after Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington. Check out the almost pick ‘em odds between Burns-Muhammad:
Burns fought a few weeks ago at UFC 287. He pieced up Jorge Masvidal with ease over three rounds. Muhammad hasn’t fought since October and wasn’t preparing to fight either. But despite that, at his request, this bout will be at five rounds, not the usual three for a non-title bout.
Honestly, both men are risking a lot to be in this matchup — Burns turning around fighting twice in a month, and Muhammad not going through a regular camp. But we think Muhammad’s challenge is greater. With two weeks to go, Muhammad came out and said he still needed to drop 19 pounds to make weight. Losing so much so fast is not only dangerous, but it could make his body weak come fight night.
Due to that extreme weight cut, our money is on Burns. Even if it weren’t for that, Burns is the more talented fighter in almost every area, sans wrestling.
Jessica Andrade vs. Yan Xiaonan Betting Pick
Andrade is the comfortable betting favorite over Xiaonan in this one. The favorite fights at both strawweight and flyweight (she’s ranked top-5 in each), but this fight will be contested at strawweight. Odds for the women’s clash are listed below:
We just lauded Burns for his furious activity, but Andrade deserves even more credit. Get this, this match will be Andrade's third of 2023 already — and we’re not even halfway through the year. Kudos to her, but that might not be to her benefit here. The former champion was choked out by Erin Blanchfield in February, and heck that might’ve been due to turning around and fighting so fast in the first place (she had fought in January).
Xiaonan is a worthy underdog play here. We wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if she gets a knockout too. Xiaonan is an elite striker who likely owns advantages in movement, technical skill, and speed over Andrade. We could see Xiaonan piecing Andrade up to victory here.
How To Bet On UFC 288?
UFC 288 betting isn’t just limited to the three we covered above. To get the entire card’s betting list, hit one of the bookmakers featured on the table. All five sites you see here are top-rated in our latest online sportsbook reviews. They even offer big-money bonuses which could cover the cost of your UFC bets with the free play it offers. See the table below for full details.