ABU DHABI – Belal Muhammad doesn’t see any other option than a title shot for him next.
Muhammad revealed the UFC had plans of booking him against Kamaru Usman, but Usman wound up stepping in on short notice to face Khamzat Chimaev in a middleweight bout in Saturday’s UFC 294 co-main event at Etihad Arena.
Muhammad (23-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) holds recent wins over the likes of Stephen Thompson, Vicente Luque, and his biggest one to date over former title challenger Gilbert Burns at UFC 288 in May. However, the UFC opted to give Colby Covington the title shot against welterweight champion Leon Edwards in the UFC 296 headliner on Dec. 16.
UFC CEO Dana White declared Muhammad as No.1 contender after he beat Burns, and Muhammad hopes he eventually gets what he’s earned.
“We were in talks to fight Kamaru Usman, but now Kamaru is fighting Khamzat,” Muhammad said during the UFC 294 Q&A on Thursday. “The only person left for me to fight for is the welterweight belt. There’s nobody left in the division. I’ve already beaten everybody else. I’ve got to get what I deserve and what I’m owed, and that’s the title shot.”
Muhammad has beaten everyone in his past 10 fights except Edwards – a fight that was ruled a no contest after Edwards poked Muhammad in the eye and rendered him unable to continue in their March 2021 headliner. The accidental eye poke happened just seconds into Round 2, and Muhammad is out to prove that losing Round 1 against Edwards meant nothing.
“That fight made me more motivated than ever to show the world and prove to everybody that I am going to be the champion – I am going to be the best welterweight in the world,” Muhammad said. “People just looked at that and they made their assumptions. What could have been in those other four rounds?
“So now, every day that I’m training, every day that I’m working out, is to show these people, these doubters, that I am the best in the world. And when I do fight Leon again and I dominate him, it’s going to show you guys what would have happened five years ago.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.