UFC 288 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo and More (Saturday, May 6)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling
- Champ Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo headlines Saturday's UFC 288 pay-per-view.
- The New Jersey fight card offers 12 bouts and a variety of betting options throughout the night.
- Below, Sean Zerillo looks at the UFC 288 odds and offers his best bets for each UFC fight tonight.
Check out our UFC 288 best bets for Saturday’s 12-bout pay-per-view event at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
UFC 288 features a headliner between bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and ex-titleholder Henry Cejudo, as well as a five-round welterweight co-main event of Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns.
Our MMA experts are targeting one of those featured bouts, as well as a trio of fights from further down the card.
So where exactly should be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed four fights and picks on Saturday’s stacked card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo’s projections below using odds from DraftKings.
Dann Stupp: Khaos Williams vs. Rolando Bedoya
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 8:25 p.m. ET
I’m backing Khaos Williams to score another highlight for his reel when he faces promotional newcomer Rolando Bedoya, who sports an impressive record, though it’s come largely against questionable opposition in his native Peru.
Williams is probably lined correctly as greater than a 3-1 favorite in this matchup.
Not only does Bedoya face the typical newcomer difficulties with a UFC debut – unfamiliar surroundings, a potential adrenaline dump, and a likely hostile crowd, among others – but I’m not sure his fighting style is suited well for a guy like Williams anyway.
I think Williams is starting to find his stride in the UFC. He sports a 4-2 record and has scored three knockouts that earned him Performance of the Night honors. That kind of success undoubtedly provides a confidence boost on MMA’s biggest stage. And even in his losses – contested decisions to Michel Pereira and recently Randy Brown – there was no real shame in his game.
Additionally, based on the little footage I’ve seen on Bedoya, I think Williams is going to have plenty of options to counter with his blistering power. Bedoya especially seems to like low kicks, which are effective – right up until they’re not against someone like Williams.
However, rather than betting into that chalky moneyline, I’m going to take Khaos to win via KO for a near-even-money payoff. I don’t think Williams leaves this in the hands of the judges and instead provides a quick and unpleasant welcome for the UFC debutant.
The Pick: Khaos Williams via KO, TKO or DQ (-115 at BetRivers)
Billy Ward: Drew Dober vs. Matt Frevola
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 9:25 p.m. ET
After doing a deeper dive into this matchup, a couple of things became clear: This fight is going to be awesome, and somebody is going to end up very unconscious.
That just leaves us with figuring out whether it will be Drew Dober or Matt Frevola standing over his vanquished opponent at the end of the fight.
Dober seems like the much safer bet. While he and Frevola have similar short, stocky builds, Dober is pretty easily the better athlete. He’s quicker with both his hands and his footwork while Frevola launches comparatively slower bombs from the outside.
While neither fighter could be described as a defensive wizard, Dober at least makes a half-hearted attempt to keep his hands up on occasion, which is another data point in his favor. I’ve buried the lede a bit here, though, because the biggest factor is Dober’s chin.
Both literally (look at the guy) and metaphorically (he’s somehow never been knocked out) Dober has the best chin in the UFC, which is a crucial factor in this fight. Both men tend to get hit far more than is advisable, but Frevola has been knocked out twice.
In a battle of attrition like this, I’ll take the fighter with the bigger health bar 10 times out of 10. Especially when this prop is close to even money.
Pick: Drew Dober by KO/TKO (-110)
Sean Zerillo: Jessica Andrade vs. Yan Xiaonan
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 10:55 p.m. ET
While ex-champ Jessica Andrade is moving down in weight, Yan Xianoan will have a one-inch reach advantage, potentially the speed advantage, and far superior technical boxing in this main-card matchup.
Andrade’s game is predicated on power and physicality. She hits hard, makes her opponents back up, and continues to press forward. She isn’t afraid to take damage or get into a firefight, but her opponents are typically gunshy once they feel her power.
However, Andrade likely needs to deploy a grappling gameplan to justify her favoritism and win this fight, given the technical striking discrepancy and Yan’s competitiveness or potential advantage at a distance.
Yan trains with Team Alpha Male, and she has improved her takedown defense, defensive grappling, and sprawl-and-brawl style following her positional TKO loss to Carla Esparza.
Yan continues to have close fights with high-level opponents, and I’m happy to back her at a nice plus-money price in what I expect to be a close and competitive featured bout.
I projected Yan as a +126 underdog, and I’d bet her moneyline down to +140. I also see slight value both on her decision prop (projected +223) and her KO/TKO prop (projected +805), and I might consider tossing the latter in a round-robin since Andrade can get reckless on the feet.
But for the purposes of our best bets feature, we’ll take the underdog straight up on the moneyline.
The Pick: Yan Xiaonan (+160 at WynnBET)
Tony Sartori: Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:55 p.m. ET
In the UFC 288 main event, we have a bantamweight title fight between reigning champion Aljamain Sterling and future Hall-of-Famer Henry Cejudo. Sterling looks to defend the strap for a third time after beating Petr Yan in the rematch and TJ Dillashaw in his latest bout.
Currently riding an eight-fight win streak, Sterling has established himself as the No. 6 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. Although he is a tremendously balanced mixed martial artist, Sterling’s grappling is what sets him apart from other elite fighters in the 135-pound division.
A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Matt Serra and former NCAA D3 wrestler, Sterling has relied on this grappling/wrestling background to propel himself into superstar status. Speaking of Serra, he returns to Sterling’s corner for the first time since UFC 250.
For this scrap, that corner will consist of Serra, Ray Longo, Merab Dvalishvili, and Al Iaquinta. Not only is that one of the most loaded corners we have seen in quite some time, but that means Cejudo could wear Sterling like a backpack in this fight.
Cejudo returns to the octagon for the first time since his 2020 victory over Dominick Cruz, and the long layoff could be a concern in this fight. Over that span where Cejudo was inactive, Sterling has been involved in three title fights and has won all three of them.
Say what you will about Cejudo, and there is a lot one could say, but he is without a doubt one of the most intelligent fighters on the planet. That is his main avenue to victory on Saturday, but Sterling is also a very intelligent fighter and is backed by an absolutely loaded corner.
Sterling has been more active, is bigger, and is in his prime. While Cejudo could definitely pull off this historic victory, Sterling is the man to back at UFC 288.
Pick: Aljamain Sterling (-105)
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