Belal Muhammad says he’s cleared all the obstacles between him and a title fight, and is now prepared to sit and wait for his championship opportunity.
Muhammad hasn’t lost since a decision defeat to Geoff Neal in January 2019, with “Remember The Name” going 10 fights (nine wins, one no contest) unbeaten since. That no contest, due to an accidental eye poke sustained against Leon Edwards, provides the perfect storyline for a title fight with “Rocky,” who went on to capture the title after that fight.
Since that no contest, Muhammad kept his momentum rolling, with wins over Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, Vicente Luque, Sean Brady, and Gilbert Burns pushing him to the front of the queue to face Leon Edwards for the welterweight title.
However, with UFC president Dana White steadfast in his determination to give Colby Covington the next shot at the belt, Muhammad now finds himself in a holding pattern as he awaits the outcome of a fight that hasn’t yet been officially announced.
“I’m just basically waiting to see when they book that fight,” he told Jon Anik and Kenny Florian during a live episode of the Anik & Florian Podcast at UFC X. He even joked that he’d have to manufacture some drama with champ Edwards to get some eyes on their potential matchup.
“I saw Leon Edwards in the back. He’s like walking with his head down, looking away and I was just like, ‘Should I walk up to him and slap him, or something?’ just to make something of it, because that’s the only way you get any attention out here nowadays!
“But I’m gonna keep replaying that video of Dana White saying, ‘Belal Muhammad has 100 percent got the winner of Colby and Leon.’ So like, that’s what you work for. You work your whole career to get to that number-one spot. So for me now, it’s just growing, getting better, keep training, keep evolving. And then, once one of these guys is ready, I’m ready to go.”
We’ve seen examples in the past of top contenders taking fights to stay active only to fall to defeat and miss out on their title opportunity. Muhammad said his team has been on hand to ensure he keeps his eyes on the prize and does nothing to jeopardize the title shot he says he has already done enough to deserve.
“I’m very impatient, because I’m always working, I’m always training,” he admitted.
”But for me, mentally, I have the people around me that are telling me like, ‘Bro. This is where you’re at.’ The gold is the goal for me. It’s always the goal for me.
“Now there’s nobody out there for me now that’s like, ‘Oh, if I beat this guy then I know for sure I’m gonna get a title shot.’ I already did that. The top four guy in the world, the best guy in the world, who fought for the title, who was supposed to be the hyped man to be next for the title (Gilbert Burns), and I just went out there and dominated him easily in a three-week notice fight. So I don’t know what else I’ve got to do.”
It looks like Muhammad knows that the best option to him is to sit tight and wait. But, as a competitor who has faced every challenge offered to him, including fighters who have typically offered tricky tests to rising contenders, Muhammad said his big test now is sticking to his guns and staying put until the mooted Edwards vs. Covington bout plays out.
”This is gonna be the hardest thing,” he admitted.
“And even with Khabib (Nurmagomedov), when I was training with him three weeks ago, he’s like, ‘Brother, this is going to be the hardest thing for you. It’s going to be the longest wait, but you have to wait.’
“When you have somebody like that telling you that… He went through it, so he knows what it is. He said Islam (Makhachev) had to do the same thing, so I was like, ‘I’m just gonna follow in their footsteps,’ because they’re the best people to ever do it.”