Streaking welterweight contender Belal Muhammad confirmed that he is slated to challenge the winner of UFC 296’s headliner between reigning champion Leon Edwards and division gatekeeper Colby Covington.
Riding a nine-fight win streak, ‘Remember the Name’ appears to be finally on the cusp of cashing in on his first UFC title opportunity. All he has to do is sit back and wait for a winner to emerge on December 16. But many fight fans still argue that it should be Muhammad stepping into the main event spotlight that night, and not Covington who has done little to gain or maintain his status as a top-five-ranked contender.
Even so, Muhammad has come to terms with his spot in line.
Making an appearance on MMA on SiriusXM, Belal Muhammad shared his thoughts on Colby Covington receiving yet another title shot and where that puts him in the welterweight title picture.
“I’m not cool with it, but I accepted it. Even before that when they called me for the Gilbert Burns fight, they said you beat Gilbert Burns, you’re next in line after Colby,” Muhammad said. “They said that it would always be after Colby. Even when I took that fight they said this is like your golden ticket. You beat Gilbert Burns, you’re next in line, but after Colby. So I always knew it would be after Colby. Now we’re just waiting for them to book that fight.
So then they book that fight and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, Belal is gonna be so mad.’ Bro, I’m not mad. I’m happy that they finally have the date. I have an idea of when I’m going to be fighting next or when I could be fighting if one of these guys gets hurt since they’ve both been out for like six years.”
"I'm going to be training no matter what for those two guys for the next…. however months, until I fight them regardless."
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) October 3, 2023
Belal Muhammad Clarifies Whether or Not He Is the UFC 296 Backup
In recent years, the UFC has assigned backups for some of the promotion’s bigger matchups in the event that a last-minute injury or illness occurs. Asked if he had been approached about being a backup for the UFC 296 main event, Muhammad revealed that he had not been formally asked, but he would be training and ready to go should the call come in.
“I’m always training no matter what and it’s easier for me now because I don’t have to wonder who my next opponent is going to be,” Muhammad continued. “When I had that meeting with Dana, he was like, ‘You still need that one fight that’s going to put you over the edge,’ so I was wondering who that was going to be. We were looking at Kamaru [Usman], Gilbert [Burns], and Shavkat [Rakhmonov]. Like, ideas of who it is, but now I know it’s only Colby or Leon.
“So it’s two guys. Both are southpaws, so it’s easier to train for both of those guys. So they haven’t really said, ‘Hey, you want to be the backup,’ but I’m going to be training no matter what for those two guys for the next however many months until I fight them regardless.”
Relive highlights from Belal Muhammad’s rise up the welterweight rankings below: