UFC books headliner between Vicente Luque and Belal Muhammad

The UFC has finalized a big time main event with huge implications in the welterweight division. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report this evening that the promotion had finalized a matchup between Vicente Luque (21-7-1) and Belal Muhammad (20-3, 1 NC).

The matchup will headline a UFC Fight Night on April 16th. This matchup makes all the sense in the world as both men are ranked inside the top five and both men are needing one more big win to get a crack at the welterweight championship.

Belal Muhammad was calling out Kamaru Usman after his last win, however, even he knew that wasn’t realistic. Nevertheless, Muhammad looked sensational in his last fight when he completely dominated Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

There was a possibility that the UFC was going to book Muhammad against super prospect Khamzat Chimaev. However, Chimaev appears to be lining up with Luque’s teammate Gilbert Burns. That created a path forwards for this matchup with Luque and Muhammad.

UFC title shot incoming for Luque?

Vicente Luque is perhaps just a win away from securing a UFC title shot. All he will have to do is beat a man that he’s already defeated. These two first fought back in 2016 with Luque scoring a TKO victory.

Quietly, Vicente Luque has been one of the very best welterweights in the world over the last few years. After the Belal Muhammad win, Luque lost a decision to top contender Leon Edwards. However, he’s been close to perfect since then.

Since the loss to Edwards back in 2017, Luque has gone 10-1 with the lone loss coming against Wonderboy Thompson. In his last fight, he submitted Michael Chiesa. Luque is compelling for the welterweight division because he’s never fought the UFC champion unlike most other top contenders at 170.

Luque will likely be a big betting favorite and for good reason. If he can stop Belal Muhammad for a second time, it would be hard to deny the man a shot at the title.

UFC Matchmaker: Khamzat Chimaev – Belal Muhammad

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 45, Belal Muhammad (20-3, 1 NC) took on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (16-6-1) in the co-main event. This was a huge fight for Muhammad who was looking to establish himself near the top of the welterweight division.

The fight couldn’t have gone better for Muhammad. From the opening bell, Muhammad was all over Wonderboy. Wonderboy is insanely dangerous from range and Muhammad never gave him room to operate.

In the past, we’ve seen Wonderboy show off incredible takedown defense. However, he had no defense for Muhammad. Muhammad was suffocating with his attack and took Wonderboy down at will on Saturday night.

In the end, it was a lopsided win for Muhammad at UFC Vegas 45 which included a scorecard of 30-25. After the fight was over, Muhammad made headlines as he called out Kamaru Usman.

However, we all know that he’s not getting a title shot next. That said, the stars appear to be aligning for a big time matchup between Muhammad and the UFC’s top welterweight prospect.

Will the UFC book Muhammad – Chimaev?

The hottest name in the UFC’s welterweight division is Khamzat Chimaev (10-0). Chimaev has been historically dominant since making his debut with the UFC on Fight Island last year.

To give you an idea, in four fights, he’s absorbed one strike. That is truly insane to think about. In his last performance against Li Jingliang at UFC 267, he looked like a monster.

Chimaev picked up Li and carried him over to Dana White. He slammed him to the mat and proceeded to batter the top fifteen contender before choking him unconscious. Talk about a statement victory.

Nobody is asking to fight Chimaev outside of Neil Magny. Well, yesterday Muhammad took to Twitter and posted a photo of himself facing off with Chimaev. Muhammad said he’s down for the fight and Chimaev responded this morning.

To me, this is the perfect fight for the UFC to make. If Muhammad wins, he will get the much needed rub that he needs to make him a compelling title challenger. If Chimaev wins, the UFC’s brightest young star leaps right to the top of the division.

After loss at UFC Vegas 45, what’s next for Wonderboy Thompson?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 45, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (16-6-1) took on Belal Muhammad (20-3, 1 NC) in the co-main event of the evening. This was a big matchup for the welterweight division.

Wonderboy was trying to bounce back after his loss to Gilbert Burns over the summer. Had Wonderboy won that fight, he would’ve likely been the next in line for a shot at the UFC welterweight title.

However, Burns got the best of him. Burns was able to use a grappling heavy attack to neutralize the great striker Wonderboy. Given his wrestling background, many thought that Belal Muhammad would institute that same gameplan.

Turns out, that’s exactly what happened. From the opening bell at UFC Vegas 45, Muhammad gave Wonderboy no space to operate. Wonderboy was stifled by the attack and really couldn’t get anything going.

When they were in space, Wonderboy was definitely landing the better shots. However, those moments of space were few and very far between. In the end, Muhammad won a very lopsided decision at UFC Vegas 45.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 45?

This was a really tough one for Wonderboy Thompson. Had he won this fight, he would’ve likely only been one more impressive win from a title shot. However, he fell short again and now he’s looking at a complete reset after back-to-back losses.

With that, who should the UFC pair him with next? Well, the most logical matchup for Wonderboy would be another fighter who is a terrible matchup for him stylistically.

If you’re looking at the division, a great next fight would be Michael Chiesa (17-6). Both men have suffered back-to-back losses and are at a similar spot in the division. Again, this is a tough spot for Wonderboy given the matchup.

Another potential fight could be a fight with Neil Magny (25-8). Magny is 4-1 in his last five and his last win is the same as Wonderboy’s and that’s a decision win over Geoff Neal. This would be another solid route for the UFC to go.

Belal Muhammad dominates Wonderboy Thompson at UFC Vegas 45

Belal Muhammad, Demian Maia

In the co-main event of UFC Vegas 45 we saw a showdown between top welterweight contenders. Former title challenger Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (16-5-1) returned to take on Belal Muhammad (19-3, 1 NC).

The last time we saw Wonderboy was back at UFC 264. That night, he lost a decision to Gilbert Burns. That loss snapped a two-fight winning streak. Had he won that night, he would’ve likely earned a UFC title shot.

However, Burns was able to best him which has caused him to reset. Wonderboy is still near the very top of the welterweight division but he needs to string together another set of wins before setting his eyes on the title.

Wonderboy was looking for the first of those wins at UFC Vegas 45. However, he has a tough test in Belal Muhammad. Muhammad hasn’t suffered a true loss in the UFC since his decision loss to Geoff Neal back in 2019.

He’s gone 5-0, 1 NC in his last six fights. The last time we saw Muhammad was against Demian Maia back at UFC 263. It was a lackluster fight but Muhammad got the decision win. He was looking for his biggest UFC win tonight.

UFC Vegas 45 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 45 co-main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Immediate pressure from Muhammad and Wonderboy lands a side kick to the body. High kick from Wonderboy lands and Muhammad shoots for a takedown.

Nice takedown defense from Thompson and he lands a couple of shots on Muhammad. Nice combination from Wonderboy on the break. Muhammad goes right back on the pressure as he’s looking to get a takedown. Muhammad gets deep on a takedown attempt and drags Wonderboy down against the fence.

The two men are trading shots along the fence and Wonderboy is using the fence trying to get up. Thompson works his way back to his feet and Muhammad presses him against the fence. Wonderboy reverses things and lands a nice knee to the body before separating.

However, the separation lasts for only seconds as Muhammad goes right back in for a takedown. He’s relentless with this attempt and gets Wonderboy down. Wonderboy gets back to his feet but Muhammad is able to get to his back.

A big slam from Muhammad and he gets the back mount. Thompson gets flattened out and Muhammad starts going to work on the ground and pound. Wonderboy is in trouble but not much time left. The round ends and it’s 1-0 Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 45.

Round 2

Entering the second round at UFC Vegas 45 and Wonderboy has to keep this fight standing. They touch gloves and Muhammad goes right back on the pressure. Nice left straight lands for Wonderboy. Head kick from Wonderboy is blocked by Muhammad.

Nice combination lands for Wonderboy. More pressure from Muhammad but he eats another combination from Wonderboy. However, Muhammad is able to get deep on a takedown attempt and he drags Thompson to the ground.

Wonderboy uses the fence and is able to get back to his feet. However, Muhammad keeps pressing and uses an ankle pick to get Wonderboy down to the ground. Muhammad is attacking a kimura but can’t quite lock it in.

Not much action here as Muhammad continues to control Wonderboy here. Muhammad transitions to side control as he continues to look for the kimura. Not much Wonderboy can do here with under a minute left in the round. The round ends and it was a dominant one for Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 45.

Round 3

Entering the final round at UFC Vegas 45 and Wonderboy is going to need a finish. Muhammad immediately goes on the pressure and Wonderboy tries to land a big combination. However, Muhammad gets a body lock and pushes him up against the fence.

Muhammad gets the takedown and gets right into a dominant position. Wonderboy is using the fence to try and get up. However, Muhammad is landing some decent shots in the clinch here. Wonderboy uses the fence and gets up to his feet.

That said, Muhammad is not giving him any space. Wonderboy gets a break and lands a shot but immediately takes him right back down. This is the most I’ve ever seen Wonderboy taken down in a UFC fight. Wonderboy has two minutes to get up.

Muhammad gets into half guard and starts landing some nice elbows. Now Muhammad finds himself in side control and he’s trying to get to the mount. Wonderboy looks completely dejected on the bottom here.

Thirty seconds left and more elbows are landing for Muhammad. This is going to be a huge win for Belal Muhammad. The fight ends and it was a dominant performance for Belal Muhammad.

Belal Muhammad def. Stephen Thompson by Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-26)

UFC Vegas 45 Preview: Stephen Thompson – Belal Muhammad

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 45 is a showdown between top welterweight contenders. Former title challenger Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (16-5-1) returns to take on Belal Muhammad (19-3, 1 NC).

The last time we saw Wonderboy was back at UFC 264. That night, he lost a decision to Gilbert Burns. That loss snapped a two-fight winning streak. Had he won that night, he would’ve likely earned a UFC title shot.

However, Burns was able to best him which has caused him to reset. Wonderboy is still near the very top of the welterweight division but he needs to string together another set of wins before setting his eyes on the title.

The first of those wins could come at UFC Vegas 45. However, he has a tough test in Belal Muhammad. Muhammad hasn’t suffered a true loss in the UFC since his decision loss to Geoff Neal back in 2019.

He’s gone 5-0, 1 NC in his last six fights. The last time we saw Muhammad was against Demian Maia back at UFC 263. It was a lackluster fight but Muhammad got the decision win. He’s looking for his biggest UFC win tomorrow night.

UFC Vegas 45 Prediction

A lot of this fight is going to come down to the takedowns. I don’t think anyone believes that Belal Muhammad can win a striking fight with Wonderboy at UFC Vegas 45. If he’s distance striking with Wonderboy, he will lose all three rounds.

Muhammad needs to fight with a lot of pressure and he needs to try and force clinches. Gilbert Burns was able to get Wonderboy down and neutralize him. That game plan will be one that Muhammad needs to follow.

I expect Muhammad to try and make this fight dirty tomorrow night. Expect him to try and force a lot of clinches and shoot for takedowns. However, I don’t think he’s going to be successful enough to get the W.

In the end, I see UFC Vegas 45 being Wonderboy’s night. I just think he’ll be too slick on the feet and I think he’ll score enough points to offset whatever offense Muhammad has.

Prediction: Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson by Unanimous Decision

UFC books Stephen Thompson – Belal Muhammad

The UFC has finalized an important matchup in their welterweight division for the final event of 2021. MMA Junkie was the first to report this afternoon that the promotion had finalized a matchup between Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (16-5-1) and Belal Muhammad (19-3, 1 NC).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on December 18th. For Belal Muhammad, he will be making his fourth appearance in 2021. He started the year off by defeated Dhiego Lima in a lopsided fight back at UFC 258.

That win was Muhammad’s fourth straight. He then got a short-notice opportunity against the top ranked Leon Edwards. That fight ended in a No Contest after Muhammad was poked in the eye by Edwards.

After that, we saw Muhammad return at UFC 263 where he defeated legend Demian Maia by decision. Muhammad is ranked ninth in the division and if he’s able to defeat Wonderboy, he will get closer to the top five and closer to UFC title contention.

UFC Fight Night for Wonderboy

Wonderboy Thompson will be making his third appearance inside the octagon when he takes on Belal Muhammad in January. The last time we saw Wonderboy was back at UFC 264 when he took on Gilbert Burns.

Thompson lost that fight, but if he would’ve won, he would’ve likely earned himself a UFC title shot. Now, Wonderboy is looking to reset and get back on track. Prior to the loss to Gilbert Burns, Thompson had won two straight over Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal.

A win over Muhammad would keep Wonderboy established near the top of the UFC’s welterweight division. Wonderboy is one of the few top contenders that champion Kamaru Usman hasn’t fought. With that in mind, Thompson is only a couple of wins away from potentially becoming an attractive option to face Usman.

Fighters lining up to face Sean Strickland at UFC 268

This week we learned that Luke Rockhold was out of UFC 268. The former middleweight champion was set to face Sean Strickland (24-3) in his return to the middleweight division. Strickland is currently ranked seventh in the division.

With Rockhold out of the fight, the UFC is starting the process of looking for replacements. At the moment, it doesn’t appear like they are going to have a lack of options in getting someone to take a fight against Strickland.

Strickland is someone who is not liked by many on the UFC roster. In fact, some would say he’s one of the more hated fighters on the roster. When Rockhold fell out of the fight, multiple big names started speaking up.

One of the biggest names is top welterweight contender and former title challenger Gilbert Burns (20-4). Burns is coming off of a victory over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. He’s been trying to get a fight against someone near the top of the welterweight division.

However, most of the top guys are booked and he’s needing a fight. With that, he tweeted yesterday that he is definitely willing to move up to 185 pounds to face Strickland at UFC 268.

Will Strickland get a new fight at UFC 268?

Another top welterweight who’s been a little more vocal about getting the fight with Strickland is Belal Muhammad (19-3, 1 NC). Muhammad took to Twitter yesterday voicing his hatred for Strickland and his desire to fight him.

However, Strickland has shot down all of the potential callouts from the UFC welterweights and other middleweight fighters. Strickland took to Instagram last night to tell Muhammad that he would backhand him if he ever saw him and said he won’t be fighting unless it’s meaningful to his spot at 185.

He went on to talk about the fact that beating Luke Rockhold would mean something and put him in a great spot. None of the callouts thus far move the needle for the UFC’s seventh ranked middleweight contender.

Strickland has made it clear that he will wait it out until he gets a contender worth fighting. At this point, I would say the odds are in favor of Strickland not fighting at UFC 268.

UFC 263 Preview: Belal Muhammad – Demian Maia

Belal Muhammad, Demian Maia

Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC 263, we will see a showdown between two top fifteen welterweights. 12th ranked Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1 NC) returns as he takes on the MMA legend Demian Maia (28-10).

What a career it’s been for Demian Maia and UFC 263 might just be the end. At 43 years old, Maia might be gearing up to hang up the gloves. Maia made his UFC debut in just his seventh pro fight all the way back in 2007.

He’s been fighting with the promotion an astonishing 14 years and holds a UFC record of 22-10. During that stretch, Maia has challenged for both the UFC middleweight and welterweight championships.

While he’s never won a world title, Maia has proven to be the model of consistency. When he lost to Gilbert Burns last March, that snapped a three-fight win streak. Had he won that fight with Burns, he might’ve gotten another UFC title shot.

Standing across from Maia tomorrow night is Belal Muhammad. Back in March, Muhammad had a golden opportunity. On short notice, the UFC gave him a main event slot against Leon Edwards. If Muhammad won that fight, he would’ve jumped right into the title picture.

However, an accidental eye poke in the second round by Edwards ended the fight in a No Contest. That NC snapped a four-fight winning streak. Muhammad is looking to get back on the winning track tomorrow night at UFC 263.

UFC 263 Prediction

When examining this matchup at UFC 263, I can’t help but think it’s a tough one for Demian Maia. Maia is one of the best jiu jitsu practitioners the UFC has ever seen. However, we’ve seen him struggle to get fights to the ground especially against top level wrestlers.

Well, Belal Muhammad is a very good wrestler. On the feet, I think Muhammad is going to have a clear advantage. I’m expecting a ton of pressure from Muhammad and I think we are going to see even more improvement in his striking.

In his Dhiego Lima fight back in February, I was incredibly impressed with the boxing of Belal Muhammad. I don’t think Maia will get this to the mat, and I just see Muhammad winning the striking exchanges at UFC 263. Don’t think we see a finish, but I think we will see a clear win for “Remember the Name”.

Prediction: Belal Muhammad by Unanimous Decision

UFC booking Belal Muhammad – Demian Maia

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a welterweight matchup for their June PPV featuring two top fifteen welterweights. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report that the promotion was finalizing a matchup between Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1 NC) and Demian Maia (28-10).

The matchup will take place on June 12th at UFC 263. For Belal Muhammad, this fight is going to be his chance to get back on track after the freak accident that happened in his last fight.

Muhammad had the opportunity of his career when he stepped in at UFC Vegas 21 to take on Leon Edwards. Edwards was the third ranked contender in the division. If Muhammad could have won, he would have vaulted into title contention.

However, in the second round, Muhammad was poked in the eye and couldn’t continue. The fight was ruled a No Contest. Immediately, Muhammad campaigned for a rematch, but the UFC booked Edwards against Nate Diaz. 

Prior to the No Contest, Muhammad had gone 8-2 in his previous ten fights. He wanted a top ten opponent and the UFC is rewarding him for his efforts and making it up to him after what happened a few weeks ago.

Last UFC fight for Maia?

Standing across from Muhammad is going to be Demian Maia. Maia is currently ranked eighth in the UFC’s welterweight rankings. This might be the final time that we see him compete in the octagon.

Maia last fought back in March of last year against Gilbert Burns. Had Maia won that fight, he could’ve been back in title contention. However, Burns knocked him out in the first round.

That loss snapped a three fight win streak for Maia. Maia has had an incredible career in the UFC, but he turns 44 this year and he’s said to have been seriously contemplating retirement.

The Brazilian legend has never become a UFC champion, but he’s challenged for the title at both 185 pounds and 170 pounds. Since mid-2014, Maia is 10-4 in the welterweight division. The four losses came against Burns, Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, and Tyron Woodley.

In his welterweight run, Maia holds wins over Jorge Masvidal, Carlos Condit, Neil Magny, and more. This matchup at UFC 263 is a huge opportunity for Muhammad to rise up the ranks, but it’s also an opportunity for Maia to go out on top.

What’s next for Leon Edwards after UFC Vegas 21?

Leon Edwards

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 21, Leon Edwards (18-3, 1 NC) finally got his chance to return to the octagon. Edwards was riding an eight-fight win streak, but hadn’t been able to compete since July of 2019.

Originally, Edwards was supposed to take on Khamzat Chimaev. However, after Chimaev pulled out due to COVID complications, Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1 NC) stepped in. Muhammad had just fought and won at UFC 258 about a month ago.

This was a golden chance for Muhammad to prove that he belonged with the elites of the division. Meanwhile, Leon Edwards was out to show that he was still one of the best in the UFC despite the lengthy layoff.

Early on in the fight, Leon Edwards looked fantastic. His striking was incredibly crisp and he looked very sharp. His pressure was also bothering Belal Muhammad who is normally the one that pushes the pace in his fights.

In the second round, Edwards went to throw a kick and accidentally poked Muhammad in the eye. It was a horrible poke that caused the UFC Vegas 21 main event to be ruled a No Contest. So after that long layoff, Edwards’ return ends with a No Contest.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 21?

Despite Belal Muhammad wanting the rematch, I don’t believe that’s what the UFC will do. This matchup was one of circumstance due to Edwards needing an opponent with just about three weeks time.

Now that the fight is done, I believe the promotion will pair Edwards up with someone near the top. To me, there is one opponent that is perfect for Leon Edwards. That opponent is former UFC interim champion, Colby Covington (16-2).

Covington needs an opponent right now and it doesn’t appear that he’s getting the next UFC title shot. Edwards isn’t getting that shot either so why not pair them up. These guys are number one and three in the world and it makes all the sense that they fight each other next.