This past Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC 288, we saw a five-round welterweight title eliminator. Former title challenger Gilbert Burns (22-6) was trying to earn his second title shot as he took on Belal Muhammad (23-3, 1 NC).
This was Burns’ third fight of 2023 already. To this point, he had defeated Neil Magny and Jorge Masvidal just about a month prior to Saturday night. Dana White said the winner of this fight would fight for the title so there was no hesitation with Burns when it came to taking the fight.
However, things went wrong quickly in the first round. In the first round after a few exchanges, Burns went into for a quick takedown. The timing was perfect and he briefly got Muhammad down. However, when he posted on his left arm, he hurt his shoulder.
Burns is known for his powerful left hand, but he wasn’t able to throw it. After the first round, Burns went exclusively to throwing his right hand due to the shoulder injury. As a result, Muhammad ran away with the fight. Burns never quit and still had moments, but it ended up being a lopsided decision win at UFC 288 for Belal Muhammad.
What’s next after UFC 288?
After the fight on Saturday night, it’s going to be about recovery for Gilbert Burns. We still don’t know how severe the shoulder injury is, but the hope from MMA fans everywhere is that it’s nothing too serious. If it’s not something that’ll keep him out for a long time, who should the UFC pair him with next?
I don’t like the idea of Burns fighting a guy like Shavkat Rakhmonov off a loss. Instead, I think there’s another top ten welterweight that makes a lot of sense. I would like to see Burns fight a guy like Geoff Neal. Neal completely pieced up and stopped Burns’ teammate Vicente Luque last year.
The style of these two would make for an excellent fight. Both men would be coming off losses and this would be a good fight to re-establish the winner. This is where I’d go if I was the UFC assuming Burns’ injury doesn’t keep him on the shelf too long.