UFC 288: Cejudo vs. Sterling — Where smack talk went to die

UFC 288 has the bantamweight title on the line and the smack talk around it is as cringey as you'd expect.

By: Stephie Haynes | 3 weeks ago
UFC 288: Cejudo vs. Sterling — Where smack talk went to die
Art courtesy of Chris Rini

UFC 288 and its alternatives

UFC 288 is all the buzz this week thanks to a burst of promotion from the company. Additionally, Henry Cejudo’s comeback has been just as cringey as one might expect after a three-year absence from the sport and the limelight. His upcoming battle for bantamweight supremacy with Aljamain Sterling is just hours away and over the course of the last few days, the smack talk has ramped up considerably between the rivals.

That’s going to be the focal point of this week’s social media crawl. Smack talk is nothing new and we’ve seen some pretty awful stuff from fighters over the years. UFC star Conor McGregor maximized his gift of gab and that helped him along to becoming the biggest star in the entire sport. Who can forget “Who da fook is that?” Nearly three decades after a press event for Mike Tyson’s fight with Lennox Lewis, the incendiary smack talk he used that day still lives in infamy, reviled by some, celebrated by others and remembered by all that were around and paying attention at the time.

When Thursday’s pre-event press conference took place, plenty of acidic barbs were launched between main event stars Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo, and ultimately ended in a shouting match. Even fellow bantamweight Sean O’Malley was catching strays from their back-and-forth antics and he doesn’t even have a fight booked. Somehow, in the year 2023, the appeal of two men yelling at each other—more accurately, OVER each other—still manages to garner the attention of fans, even if they need to use a supercomputer and advanced alien technology to decipher what was said.

For those that like a more lively fight card experience with a bit of pomp and circumstance, ONE Championship had a phenomenal event last night, filled with great fights and finishes. They’ve done a great job building their athletes into stars. Stamp Fairtex and Rodtang are shining examples of this.

I know UFC 288 is a great card, but there’s no denying that the UFC experience is prepackaged and can feel a little stale. There’s also no denying that its weekend rivals had/have solid events too. And speaking of rivals, Rizin also has a card that should still be airing as this post goes live. And perhaps the most notable fight this weekend will be the one between Canelo Alvarez and John Ryder. That PPV takes place tonight on DAZN, directly competing against UFC 288. Fight fans, you have options!

Once again, Twitter was very fruitful, but I still managed to find a few clips and galleries from Instagram, so those have been thrown in, as well. I’ve also included a bonus post at the end of a UFC fighter’s very unique tattoos, and while she isn’t on this weekend’s UFC 288 event, I thought her ink was a fun addition, so in they went. In the immortal words of the great Al Bundy, Let’s rock!


Aljamain Sterling is ripped

Hunger games

Aljo’s sneaker game


Another run-in

Henry Cejudo is back

Spray tan?

He said what about Sean O’Malley?

ZING! Sean strikes back

The hit list

Henry Cejudo, the Barbarian

An army of mostly small-statured men

A fight gets canceled

Another fight gets canceled

Face off


Belal says New Jersey sucks

Belal wants your tears

ONE Championship

What a resume!

Serious consideration

Money talks

Bonus cheddar

Precious moments

Stamp Fairtex is HER

Stamp dance

Rodtang is legend

These violent delights

Super Sage

A cheeky bonus

Weekend coverage

We’ve got the recipe for your weekend violence. As a matter of fact, we have several. Check out our staff predictions for UFC 288. Or have a gander at our live results stream for Canelo vs. Ryder. And if you don’t find anything to your liking in those, try out our live results stream for Rizin 42.


Now that Bloody Elbow is a fully independent site, the best way to support us so that we can continue fearless coverage of combat sports, is to pick up a paid subscription. Paid subscribers help fund other exclusive content like editorials from Karim Zidan, boxing breakdowns and analysis from Eddie Goldman and Jonathan Snowden, as well as financial investigations and explainers by John S. Nash.

Bloody Elbow Archives

Join the new Bloody Elbow

Subscribe to our Substack!

Share this story

About the author
Stephie Haynes
Stephie Haynes

Stephie Haynes has been covering MMA since 2005. She has also worked for MMA promotion Proelite and apparel brand TapouT. She hosted TapouT’s official radio show for four years before joining Bloody Elbow in 2012. She has interviewed everyone there is to interview in the fight game from from Dana White to Conor McGregor to Kimbo Slice, as well as mainstream TV, film and music stars including Norman Reedus, RZA and Anthony Bourdain. She has been producing the BE podcast network since 2017 and hosts four of its current shows.

More from the author

Recent Stories