This past weekend at UFC 258, Belal Muhammad (18-3) took on Dhiego Lima (15-8). Both men entered the contest on winning streaks, but Muhammad was the only fighter who made the walk with a ranking by his name.
Entering UFC 258, Muhammad was ranked 13th in the welterweight division. Going into this matchup, I figured Muhammad’s wrestling would just overwhelm Lima. However, that wasn’t the case.
Lima was incredibly impressive with his takedown defense and kept the fight standing for the majority of the fight. That said, Muhammad still completely controlled the fight on Saturday night.
Muhammad put a pace on Lima that just weathered the former Ultimate Fighter runner-up. Lima landed some good shots, but the fight was all Belal Muhammad. I came away incredibly impressed by the continued improvement of Belal Muhammad’s striking.
After the fight was over, Muhammad didn’t call out one of the elites of the division. Instead, he called out a fighter that makes perfect sense when you look at the UFC rankings. Muhammad called out The Leech, Li Jingliang (18-6).
Will the UFC make this matchup?
Last month, Jingliang took on the returning Santiago Ponzinibbio. Ponzinibbio at one point looked like he was going to be the next big threat in the UFC’s welterweight division. However, injuries and time away have slowed his progress.
While he was the big betting favorite, Ponzinibbio couldn’t deliver. Jingliang ended up knocking him out with a flush left hand and that win found Jingliang ranked 12th in the UFC’s welterweight rankings. One spot ahead of Belal Muhammad.
Muhammad made the callout on Saturday night because he said it’s the fight that makes sense. Despite the winning streak and being ranked, Muhammad hasn’t received a ranked opponent over his last few fights. That’s something that the UFC will aim to change in his next time out.
I believe that the proposed matchup between Muhammad and Jingliang makes all the sense in the world. Whoever would be victorious in that matchup would be primed for a matchup against someone in the UFC’s top ten.