At UFC Vegas 51, Muhammad continued his charge towards the title by extending his win streak to three and his unbeaten run to eight straight fights. “Remember The Name” did so by avenging his 2016 knockout loss to Vicente Luque.
The victory, which marked his first headline triumph in MMA’s premier promotion, secured Muhammad a place inside the welterweight top five, meaning he’s likely just one more win away from a shot at gold.
Despite his 2021 triumphs over Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson, Muhammad had his fair share of detractors heading into his first appearance of 2022. By dispatching Luque, who was in hot form and tipped by many to earn a title shot soon, the Chicago native certainly scored a point over his doubters.
His scenario is certainly similar to that of 135-pound king Sterling, who, like Muhammad, recently achieved the feat of silencing his doubters. “Funk Master” proved his naysayers wrong in the UFC 273 co-main event on April 9, earning a split decision win against heavy favorite Petr Yan.
In an interview with ESPN MMA’s Marc Raimondi, Muhammad compared the hate he and Sterling have received and expressed joy at seeing the New York native have the gold wrapped around his waist without the controversy of a disqualification.
“Aljamain got illegally kneed, and people hate him for that. I got poked, and that’s when it like, swings at me that I’m a crybaby now. I’m like, bro, the stuff happened to us. We didn’t go out there and illegally do the stuff,” reminded Muhammad. “It’s weird how it just changes. It’s funny and it’s great seeing it. He was doubted by so many people and hated by so many people before (UFC 273)… It felt good seeing them actually put (the title) around his waist.”
Muhammad went on to state that Sterling’s against-the-odds success in Jacksonville inspired him to stick it to his own doubters a week later in Las Vegas.
“He proved a lot of haters and doubters wrong, and it motivated me to prove the haters and doubters wrong. Everybody told me I’m gonna get knocked out, I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna lose,” continued Muhammad. “The same way as, ‘Oh, Yan was killing Aljamain the first fight,’ I got, ‘You got knocked out the first fight, you’re gonna get knocked out again.’ So, it felt good to get that one up over all of them.”
Muhammad will now be hoping to go even further by reaching the top of the welterweight mountaintop. For his remaining doubters, the presence of gold around his waist would certainly damage their line of argument.
Were you impressed by Belal Muhammad’s performance against Vicente Luque at UFC Vegas 51?