This past Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC 288, we saw a five-round title eliminator in the welterweight division. Former title challenger Gilbert Burns (22-6) was looking for his third win already of 2023 as he took on surging top contender Belal Muhammad (23-3, 1 NC).
As mentioned, Burns was already fighting for the third time this year. Most recently he had fought at UFC 287 in Miami when he defeated Jorge Masvidal. Meanwhile, Muhammad most recently fought back in October, but was in the middle of Ramadan when he got the call to face Burns on three-weeks’ notice.
Neither man had any doubts regarding accepting the fight. Muhammad actually came into the fight with a little bit of a leg injury and Burns suffered a shoulder injury in the first round of the fight. Muhammad’s injury didn’t play out, but Burns’ injury really played a factor in the fight.
Burns is known for his quick left hand, but he couldn’t throw his left after the first round. He became a one-armed fighter and Muhammad took full advantage. With a steady volume of pressure and body kicks, Muhammad outpointed Burns over the course of five rounds.
Burns was able to land shots here and there, but the story of UFC 288 was Belal Muhammad. He won a lopsided unanimous decision and earned his shot at the welterweight title.
Will Muhammad really get his UFC title shot?
Right now, the UFC is currently working on booking Leon Edwards against Colby Covington. Covington originally wanted the fight over the summer, but Edwards wanted a little time off. Currently, they are targeting late summer or early fall for that fight.
If I had to guess based on latest rumblings, September could be the spot for that fight. Edwards had said that he wanted to fight in October in Abu Dhabi, but that makes no sense at all for the UFC. It would make sense if Muhammad was fighting for the title.
Dana White confirmed and I believe him when he said that Muhammad will be next no matter how long the layoff is. Like I said, September is a good target for the welterweight title fight. That would mean that Muhammad’s shot wouldn’t likely come until the last PPV card of the year or early 2024.
Muhammad said he doesn’t mine sitting out knowing that he has a UFC title shot next. While there might be bigger storylines, the man has done enough not losing in his past ten fights. He’s wanting a rematch with Edwards for a while now and he’s always wanted to fight Covington. Looks like he’ll get his wish sometime within the next 12 months.