If there’s one man whose rise to contention has gone more unnoticed than it should, it’s Muhammad. Since a 2016 loss to Vicente Luque, “Remember The Name” has gone 10-1-1 in the Octagon.
Across his active seven-fight unbeaten streak, the 33-year-old has defeated Dhiego Lima, Lyman Good, and Demian Maia, and comprehensively got past Stephen Thompson to enter the top five.
If he’s to turn that dream into a reality, not only will Muhammad need to avenge his previous loss to “The Silent Assassin,” but he’ll also have to put in a display more impressive and memorable than whoever comes out on top in April’s other notable welterweight bout.
Muhammad: I’ve Got To One Up Burns/Chimaev Victor
At this weekend’s UFC 273 pay-per-view, two title fights are at risk of being overshadowed by the fifth Octagon outing for Khamzat Chimaev. “Borz” has gone 4-0 in the promotion to date, but is set for the toughness test to his unblemished record when he shares the cage with Gilbert Burns.
With a rising star grabbing as many headlines as any fighter in the sport set to face the #2-ranked contender on the PPV stage, Muhammad knows he has his work cut out if he’s to jump Saturday’s winner in the queue for a championship opportunity.
During a recent interview with AbzTalks, the Chicago-born welterweight admitted he has to one-up the victorious display of either Burns or Chimaev when he headlines UFC Vegas 51 a week later.
“I feel like these next two weeks are gonna be like, a little tournament for 170,” said Muhammad. “You got Gilbert against Khamzat, who, obviously, everybody’s talking about, everybody thinks is gonna be the next champion. So, it’s outdoing them. So, it’s like, I have to outperform them. So if one of them comes out there, gets the big finish, something like that, I gotta one-up them, I gotta be right there.
“I think that it’s the winner of our fight is either gonna fight the winner of their fight, or you get into, how long is Usman gonna be out for? Is there gonna be an interim title on the line? I know he says July, but let’s see when he actually starts punching with that hand, if that ligament actually stays attached or not. Injuries happen, stuff happens. Like I say, I wanna be a guy who’s active,” concluded Muhammad.
Whatever the results, it’s safe to say the welterweight title picture is set to look a lot clearer after the culmination of the April cards. That is, unless the potential return of a certain “Notorious” Irishman causes havoc…
Do you think Belal Muhammad can secure a title shot with an impressive performance against Vicente Luque later this month?