Sherdog’s Official Mixed Martial Arts Rankings
A Streak to Remember
John Brannigan/Sherdog.com illustration
Belal Muhammad just keeps donning his hard hat and putting in work against Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweights.
In the co-main event of UFC 288 on Saturday at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, “Remember the Name” ground out a lopsided unanimous decision win over Gilbert Burns. While Muhammad appeared to benefit in Rounds 4 and 5 from an injury to his opponent’s left arm, he was winning the fight before then as well, as evidenced by two of the judges giving Burns only the second round, and the other scoring all five rounds for Muhammad. In defeating the supremely dangerous former title challenger, the 34-year-old Roufusport standout accomplished two important things: confirm that he can in fact apply his withering, high-pressure game for five full rounds against elite foes; and extend his unbeaten streak in the Octagon to 10 in a row. By the numbers at least, his is the most overdue title shot in the promotion, a miscarriage of justice that may finally be at an end, as Muhammad has apparently earned the next crack at Leon Edwards’ belt.
The main event of UFC 288 featured bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling defending his title against the returning Henry Cejudo. Sterling retained the belt in a performance that was more of a clear win than the split decision would seem to indicate, but that is par for the course for the “Funk Master,” who seems doomed to go down as one of the UFC’s more disrespected champs in recent memory even as he broke the promotional record for title defenses at bantamweight. The flip side of Sterling’s third title defense is that Cejudo came back at age 36, after three years away from the sport, and looked every bit like an elite fighter. As such, the former two-division champ who never lost either belt in the cage re-enters Sherdog’s bantamweight poll at No. 4.
In other UFC action Saturday, the strawweight drink got a vigorous stir on Saturday night thanks to statement wins from Xiaonan Yan, who plunked former champion Jessica Andrade in the first round of their main card clash, and Virna Jandiroba, who corralled Marina Rodriguez in a Muhammad-esque display of pressure, attrition and top-position superiority. They move to No. 4 and No. 7, respectively, in the latest 115-pound rankings.
Finally, the atomweight party was crashed Wednesday night by Rayanne Amanda dos Santos, who unseated Invicta Fighting Championships 105-pound queen Jillian DeCoursey in a surprisingly one-sided steamrolling at Invicta FC 53 in Denver. The 27-year-old Brazilian jumps right into DeCoursey’s previous No. 4 slot on the rankings, while “Lionheart” and the rest all slide down a spot.
Note: Previous rankings listed in brackets.
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