UFC Tips: The 3 best bets for UFC 288 in New Jersey this Saturday night

Our tipster Aaron Nolan finds three value picks for Saturday night's fighting stateside.

Aljamain Sterling, UFC, May 2023


UFC 288 Betting Tips

3:15am Kron Gracie v Charles Jourdain – Kron Gracie by Submission
4:30am Gilbert Burns v Belal Muhamad – Belal Muhammad by Points
5:00am Aljamain Sterling v Henry Cejudo – Aljamain Sterling to win

UFC 288 – Newark, New Jersey
TV: BT Sport 1, BT Sport Box Office 

Kron Gracie v Charles Jourdain – Kron Gracie by Submission

Sunday, 3:15am

The main card opener sees Kron Gracie return to the octagon after a four year lay-off against a tough opponent in Charles Jourdain. Raised by Jiu Jitsu and MMA royalty, Kron continues the Gracie legacy by following in his family’s footsteps competing at the highest level in both grappling and in mixed martial arts. He certainly did the former, winning gold in the 2013 ADCC World Championships (basically the World Cup of grappling) soon after he started his MMA career and won his first five fights by submission. 

He then fought Cub Swanson who delivered his first loss which came by a unanimous decision. He faced criticism from his own family for opting to stand and strike instead of using his Jiu Jitsu. Although outclassed on the feet, we did learn that Kron is tough. But we also learned Kron really needs to use his Jiu Jitsu in the octagon.  

Charles Jourdain is a game, experienced opponent with a 13-6-1 record. Jourdain is the slight favourite but I think the second-generation Gracie will have learned from his mistakes. He has to use his best weapons in this fight and I fully expect to see ‘Ice Cream’ Kron trying to bring this fight to the ground where he can finish it. Kron Gracie by Submission.

Gilbert Burns v Belal Muhammad – Belal Muhammad by Points

Sunday, 4:30am

Another close fight here. Gilbert Burns, just like Kron Gracie, has a world class Jiu Jitsu pedigree. But Burns isn’t just a ‘jiu jitsu guy’. He can go to war with the best of the division and come out on top. He’s aggressive, he’s hard-hitting and it works. He has collected some of the biggest scalps in the weight class in the last few years – Jorge Masvidal, Neil Magny, Steven Thompson, Damien Maia and Tyron Woodley all have fallen short against Gilbert Durinho Burns.

So why bet against him? Belal doesn’t have the grappling resumé. He doesn’t have the knockout power with only two KO/TKO wins in the last seven years. But yet, Belal knows how to get his hand raised. Belal will often walk opponents down before pinning them against the cage offering up striking and wrestling problems. His style puts his opposition on the back foot, he gains control time and it wears them out over the course of the fight. His gas tank is a weapon he’ll be trying to use in this fight.

I’ve got some stats for you too; Belal lands more strikers per minute than Gilbert Burns (4.5 vs 3.4). Belal’s also better at staying out of danger – his opponents miss a higher percentage of strikes than Burns’ opponents (58% v 54%). Belal completes more takedowns, and his takedown defence is a staggering 93% – among the highest in the entire UFC roster. Compare that to Burns’ successfully defending 47% of takedown attempts. 

These are two elite fighters in the 170lb division, but I think Belal Muhammad is the more technical MMA fighter and he just knows how to win rounds. Belal Muhammad by Decision.

Aljamain Sterling v Henry Cejudo – Aljamain Sterling to win

Sunday, 5am

This is a real pick’em fight. Odds have been sitting at 5/6 for both fighters all week but as of writing, Cejudo has emerged as a slight favourite to reclaim the title he never lost.

I think Cejudo in his prime probably cleans Aljo’s clock. But this isn’t Cejudo’s prime. He’s 36 now, he hasn’t fought in three years and he’s looked a bit fleshy while he’s been out of the octagon. Sterling’s been more active, he’s been fighting in five round main event fights and he looks like he’s been chiselled out of stone. 

I’m not tipping a method of victory here as Sterling has many ways to win. Although not a knockout artist by any means, it is after all a 25-minute cage fight with four-ounce gloves. Sterling could potentially knock the King of Cringe out. He could also win on the judges’ scorecards if he ends up being sharper or more active or if he manages to get on top of Cejudo for large portions of rounds. Maybe he’ll win rounds by becoming a human Jansport like he did against Petr Yan. Or maybe he’ll sink a rear naked choke in like he did in the first round against Cory Sandhagen.

Cejudo could absolutely reclaim his bantamweight title in the early hours of Sunday morning. But I like that we’re getting the champion here at a price around EVS against a guy who retired three years ago. Aljamain Sterling to win.

UFC 288 Betting Tips

3:15am Kron Gracie v Charles Jourdain – Kron Gracie by Submission
4:30am Gilbert Burns v Belal Muhamad – Belal Muhammad by Points
5:00am Aljamain Sterling v Henry Cejudo – Aljamain Sterling to win

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change




What do you think?