Belal Muhammad Warned Ref About Edwards’ Fingers Before Fight

Even though it would appear no permanent damage was done to Belal Muhammad’s eye following an illegal strike from Leon Edwards at UFC Vegas 21, the welterweight claims he specifically warned the referee Herb Dean of the tendency before the fight started.

Ruled a no-contest, the bout between Muhammad and Edwards started hot with both fighters pushing the pace, but before the first round bell could sound, a nasty eye poke halted the fight immediately.

Belal Muhammad Warned Herb Dean Before Fight Of Possible Eye Pokes

Referee Herb Dean called a stop to the action and the bout ended with no winner. However, Belal Muhammad says that he explicitly warned the referee that Edwards has a tendency to stick his fingers out, and especially when he’s under pressure.

“We trained for this,” Belal Muhammad told ESPN. “We know he likes to keep distance and put his palm out. We literally told Herb Dean before the fight, ‘We’re going to be trying to get in on him and he puts his hands out, please watch his fingers.”

Belal Muhammad
Belal Muhammad, Getty Images

In addition, Belal Muhammad explained that the current circumstances aren’t satisfactory and that the rules need to change in regard to eye pokes. Not only that, but the welterweight implied that decisions like what happened in the bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling signified the right outcome. Which really is to deter that type of behavior in the cage.

“Refs need to take a point right away, no warning. Belal Muhammad said. That will stop guys from doing that. You saw it with Petr Yan‘s illegal knee [at UFC 259], he got disqualified. You get penalized like that, that’s going to stop guys from even thinking about that. That finger, you take a point right away, that’s going to get everybody afraid.”

Certainly, the 32-year old welterweight has a point, but changing the rules is always a complex measure considering different states and countries incorporate different rulesets.

Muhammad Confused By Edwards Not Wanting Run It Back

It seems Muhammad is confused as to why Edwards wouldn’t want a rematch after such an anti-climactic ending. Additionally, the UFC president Dana White mentioned that a big win over Muhammad would earn Edwards the long-coveted title shot. Meanwhile, Jorge Masvidal and champion Kamaru Usman are running it back soon, so the time seems optimal as long as Muhammad’s eye is healed up.

“Dana White put it out there, ‘If you beat Belal Muhammad, you get a title shot,'” Muhammad said. “The title shot is already booked right now, with Jorge Masvidal and Kamaru Usman [on April 24]. Why wouldn’t you want to take this fight? If you think you’re so much ahead of me, and you won the first round, and all the other rounds are going to go the same way, OK. Come and get this easy paycheck. Fight me, beat me and you’ll get a title shot anyway.”

Essentially, “Remember The Name” is telling Edwards to put his money where his mouth is. Since business at UFC 261 still needs handling, perhaps lining the two up under the welterweight title fight wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Do you agree with Belal Muhammad, should the consequences for illegal strikes be intensified, or keep the rules as they exist? Let us know below!