Belal Muhammad made quite a statement at UFC 280 with a second-round knockout of previously undefeated welterweight Sean Brady, and now he’s looking to do the same thing in his next fight.
The only problem is, Muhammad wants the opportunity to face Khamzat Chimaev after calling out the Chechen fighter for the better part of the past two years. Even in the aftermath of his win over Brady in Abu Dhabi, Muhammad heard the UFC was targeting Chimaev against Colby Covington in early 2023. It’s just a matchup he doesn’t see happening.
“I believe that’s literally my only fight,” Muhammad said to MMA Fighting about the Chimaev bout. “For me, it’s Leon [Edwards] or Khamzat, and I think that us two makes the most sense.
” I know that they are referring to Colby but I doubt Colby will take on the fight. Colby hasn’t taken a hard fight or a fight against a guy coming off a win since Kamaru [Usman]. Kamaru is the only guy he’s fought in his last eight fights that wasn’t on a two-fight losing streak.”
Covington has largely stayed silent for the past six months after defeating Jorge Masvidal in March. The two-time challenger for the welterweight title has been in court fighting Masvidal since March, when they got into an altercation. Masvidal was indicted for multiple felonies including criminal mischief and aggravated battery. However, the case is still being processed by defense and prosecution teams.
None of that would necessarily prevent Covington from competing again, but the always-outspoken fighter hasn’t made any public statement about his return to action since the incident occurred. Interestingly, his attorneys have claimed he suffered a brain injury in Masvidal’s alleged attack.
Muhammad is unable to understand why Covington remains ranked at the welterweight division despite his less than stellar resume.
“Colby gets credit for being the man that would have been the champion if Kamaru wasn’t there. But who is he beating?” Muhammad stated. He beat Masvidal after a losing streak of three fights. On a losing streak of five fights, he beat [Tyron] Woodley. It’s all been lightweights, other than that. What is the point of this guy receiving all the credit when I am the one beating the ranked guys?
” I beat [Vicente] Luque who had a streak of seven wins. I just beat ‘Wonderboy’ [Stephen Thompson], who was 3-1 out of his last four [fights]. This [Sean Brady] kid, who was 15-0, I beat. I’ve beat four top-10 guys in the last year. The only other guy that’s beating top-10 guys in the last year is Kamaru Usman. Nobody else is beating multiple top-10 guys. Even Khamzat’s only win against a ranked guy is Gilbert Burns, and that was a close, split decision, and he came in nine pounds over weight for his last one. Kamaru [and] is my No. 2 in the division rankings-wise. The fact that they still have Colby there doesn’t make any sense.”
While Muhammad doesn’t dismiss Covington as an opponent at welterweight, he believes that he poses more challenges to Chimaev. He loves the chance against Chimaev because of his strong wrestling skills, his ability to train hard for 25 seconds, and his punching power.
“I definitely do think I’m the harder matchup for [Khamzat],” Muhammad said. “I believe my striking is way better than Colby’s and I feel comfortable being there,” Muhammad said. He explained that Khamzat’s last fight against Gilbert Burns was emotional. When he tried to get out of that fire, he became tired and started fighting against the gameplan . Colby is not at ease being around that fire. Colby isn’t comfortable. He says, “If I can’t bring you down, I must strike with you” – that’s Colby.
” To fight someone like Khamzat I have to learn more about tape than anyone else in the sport. I already know what I would do for a fight like that. I know what I would bring to the table for a fight like that. I already know what I need to do. If I do get that fight, I’ve already been ready for that fight. It was something I wanted so badly. I do think I’m the hardest matchup in the division for anybody.”
When it comes to promotion, where Covington is known to target opponents with trash talk to drum up interest, Muhammad hasn’t seen enough proof that those antics have transformed into television ratings or pay-per-view buys.
“Why are you pushing that one so hard? Because Colby’s going to say stupid things at a press conference to get him revved up?” Muhammad said. I think that people would want to see Khamzat versus me. The fight will get the same number of people’s eyes and views. This fight is more important for the division that the Colby fight.
“Colby will say outlandish things, and he’ll get clickbait from it. But, I doubt he is a big pay-per view draw like Conor McGregor or Masvidal. He’s not that guy. There’s nothing to gain from pushing that Colby fight. Me and Khamzat are the only ones in the division winning right now. We’re the only ones active right now. We should all be in the .”