Sans a brutal eye poke in a short-notice bout against Leon Edwards, Belal Muhammed has been on a tear since 2019. He’s dispatched Demian Maia, Dhiego Lima, and Lyman Good during his current run. Wins over unranked opponents and an aging Maia may not be enough to earn “The Bully” a crack at the title, but he feels a win over Stephen Thompson this weekend will be enough to shoot him into contention (h/t MMA Junkie).
“The only guys who have beaten (Thompson) in the last whatever years is either the champion or Gilbert Burns, who’s fought for the title,” Muhammad told MMA Junkie at UFC Vegas 45 media day. “(Thompson has) fought for the title twice so if he fought for the title twice, I just beat (Demian) Maia who fought for the title twice– ‘Bully B’ needs to fight for the title once.”
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Thompson did fight for the title twice, but that was years ago. Currently, Thompson is 2-3 in his last five bouts. This means Muhammed may need to put in some more work before he’s summoned to fight for a belt. If that’s the case, the Chicagoan has no problem facing one of the promotion’s fastest rising stars in Khamzat Chimaev.
“He’s the biggest name right now, the biggest star, has the most momentum, the biggest hype,” Muhammad said. “He has Conor McGregor hype where it’s like you beat him, you gain more from beating him than anybody else in the division—where he has this stigma of him being the boogeyman of how he just dominated everybody. So you beat somebody like that, you’re the next star. You steal all of his hype, you steal all of his momentum. So it’s like, why not?”
Chimaev looked nearly unstoppable since he joined the UFC last year. He has the fastest turnaround in the organization’s history and most recently ran through Li Jingliang at UFC 267 in October. Belal Muhammad‘s upcoming bout against Stephen Thompson takes place tomorrow (Dec. 18) at UFC Vegas 45.
How do you think a fight between Belal Muhammed and Khamzat Chimaev would play out?