With this weekend marking the final UFC show of April, it’s worth looking forward to May, which features three different events.
While only one of these events is a major pay-per-view, there are still a number of excellent fights for UFC fans to look forward to next month.
So with a title on the line and plenty at stake, it’s worth keeping a close eye on all three of the upcoming shows.
Here are five of the best UFC fights to look forward to in May.
#5. UFC featherweight bout: Movsar Evloev vs. Bryce Mitchell
UFC 288 has already been labeled as a weaker card by some commentators, but the truth is that it’s actually deeper than it appears at first glance.
Sure, it doesn’t feature the biggest names the promotion has to offer, but almost every fight looks good on paper. Case in point is the main card tilt between featherweights Movsar Evloev and Bryce Mitchell.
Both men are currently ranked in the top fifteen at 145lbs, with #10 Evloev positioned one spot above ‘Thug Nasty’, who sits at #11. Interestingly, though, it’s arguable that Mitchell has a stronger record.
Sure, he lost his last fight in brutal fashion, falling to Ilia Topuria via KO, but prior to that, he’d won six straight bouts in the octagon. He also holds an impressive win over Edson Barboza.
Evloev, on the other hand, is currently unbeaten in the octagon and in MMA in general. He boasts a 16-0 record, with his most recent win coming over Dan Ige in June 2022.
With both men being master grapplers, it’s likely that this fight will largely take place on the mat – and realistically, anything could happen.
There’s a chance that Evloev and Mitchell could well treat the fans to a classic ground war, and therefore this is definitely one of May’s must-see clashes.
#4. UFC light-heavyweight bout: Anthony Smith vs. Johnny Walker
The second event in May is set to go down in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the co-headliner will feature two of the UFC’s most exciting light-heavyweights squaring off.
The fight will see Anthony Smith take on Johnny Walker, and depending on how other results go, the winner could end up elevated to title contention. After all, Walker is currently ranked at #7, while ‘Lionheart’ sits two spots above him at #5.
Of the two, Walker has been in better form. He’s won his last two bouts by finish and seems to have shed his wildman tag somewhat, using a more cerebral approach to dispatch Ion Cutelaba and Paul Craig.
Smith hasn’t fought since a loss to Magomed Ankalaev in July 2022. Prior to that, he’d finished his last three foes and arguably only fell to the Dagestani due to a leg injury.
Given the aggression and finishing rate of both of these fighters, it’s highly unlikely that this one will go the distance. More likely than not, we’ll see a crazy fight that produces true fireworks and sees both claim a $50k bonus.
With that in mind, it’s clearly one of the best fights currently booked for May.
#3. UFC heavyweight bout: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Jailton Almeida
One fighter who has clearly needed a step up in competition for some time is Jailton Almeida. The Brazilian has fought at both 205lbs and as a heavyweight in the UFC, and has gone 4-0, dispatching all of his opponents with ease.
The last time we saw him in action, he utterly destroyed veteran Shamil Abdurakhimov to move into the heavyweight division’s top 15. With Sergei Pavlovich now firmly considered a contender, it’s arguable that ‘Malhadinho’ is the division’s best prospect.
Next month, though, he’ll headline his first UFC event against a real proven veteran in the form of Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Their fight is set for the main event of the May 13 event in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will be the first time Almeida has been scheduled for five rounds.
Rozenstruik, of course, has been there and done that on numerous occasions. ‘Bigi Boy’ has headlined four shows in the past, and holds wins over the likes of Junior Dos Santos and Alistair Overeem.
However, he’s also shown limitations on the ground and with his cardio, meaning that there’s a lot for Almeida, who seems to be a dangerous grappler, to work with here.
Essentially, this fight is a chance for a real blue chip prospect to climb into contention, and so it’s definitely one worth keeping a close eye on next month.
#2. UFC welterweight bout: Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns
While it’s only been put together due to Charles Oliveira suffering an injury, it’s fair to say that UFC 288’s new co-headliner of Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns is a hell of a fight.
The two men are right at the top of the welterweight division, with Burns coming off a massive win over Jorge Masvidal and Muhammad riding an impressive nine-fight unbeaten streak.
Essentially, either man could fight Leon Edwards for the welterweight title next and nobody would bat an eyelid.
With Colby Covington being given that opportunity instead, though, ‘Remember the Name’ and ‘Durinho’ have been left to face one another. Will the winner get the next title shot? Hopefully, but in the world of the UFC, nothing is for certain.
Either way, though, this should be a fantastic fight to watch. Both men are powerful grapplers with heavy hands, and neither has any real weaknesses.
When you add in that the fight will be contested over five rounds, we could be in for a genuine classic here. With the next welterweight title shot likely at stake, this is an unmissable clash.
#1. UFC bantamweight title: Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo
Naturally, the best fight on tap next month is the headliner of UFC 288, which will take place on May 6 in Newark, New Jersey.
The fight will see Aljamain Sterling attempt to make the third defense of his bantamweight title against arguably his toughest test to date, former titleholder and Olympic gold medallist Henry Cejudo.
‘Triple C’ has not fought since relinquishing his title following a win over Dominick Cruz in 2020. However, it’s arguable that thanks to his status as one of the only double champions in UFC history, Cejudo should be considered one of the best fighters of all time.
At 36 years old, he may be heading towards the end of his prime, but anyone with wins over Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw, Cruz and Marlon Moraes is always going to be hard to stop.
Sterling, on the other hand, has been unfairly looked down upon by the fans because of the way he won his title.
‘The Funk Master’ claimed gold by disqualification after being hit with an illegal knee by Petr Yan. Since then, though, he’s beaten Yan in a rematch and also destroyed Dillashaw, although Dillashaw was reportedly carrying an injury coming into the fight.
Sterling is a fantastic fighter overall, with a phenomenal ground game and a rapidly improving stand-up arsenal. Whether he can deal with the wrestling skill of Cejudo, though, remains to be seen.
Basically, this should be a truly fantastic fight between two of the best 135lbers of all time. Either Sterling will cement himself as a true champion, or Cejudo will reclaim the gold in yet another huge achievement, marking him as one of the GOATs.
Either way, this is easily the best fight on offer this May.