Both Belal Muhammad and Leon Edwards got burned on Saturday night.
Muhammad wanted to take full advantage of his opportunity to face a top-ranked welterweight to ascend up to the division’s title picture. Edwards wanted Octagon time to shake off any cage rust after 602 days in between competition.
Unfortunately for both men, their wishes were left unfulfilled as the fight was called off early in the second round after Edwards accidentally caught Muhammad with an eye poke bad enough to have the fight called off and ruled a no decision.
Despite the unsatisfactory end result, Edwards said in the post-fight press conference that he had little interest in a rematch and wants his next fight to be for the UFC welterweight championship belt.
“I believe a title shot should be next,” Edwards said. “I’ve rebuilt myself back up since I last competed against [Kamaru] Usman. Went on an eight-fight winning streak and Belal was going to be nine.
“The writing was on the wall, you know, I was winning the fight clearly. I believe I should be next for the title shot. Like I said, I’ve rebuilt myself back up and I feel I should be next.”
Edwards was indeed up on that first round, outstriking his short-notice opponent and landing the most telling blow – a head kick that had Chicago native Muhammad on wobbly legs for a moment.
But the fight was far from done and Muhammad took to social media to voice his dismay at Edwards’ dismissal of a rematch that seems a reasonable request.
“Never saw someone act so tough after poking someone in the eye,” Muhammad wrote. [Edited for legibility] “The fight was just getting [going] and if [you’re] satisfied to end it on that note [you’re] soft.
“You ain’t getting a title fight off that. I took the fight on [three week’s] notice and came to fight, run it back.”
Never saw someone act so tough after poking someone in the eye the fight was just getting goin and if your satisfied to end it on that note your soft you ain’t getting a title fight off that I took the fight on 3 week notice and came to fight run it back @ufc
— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) March 14, 2021
Before the contest, Edwards was riding an eight-fight winning streak. Muhammad was also on form, having posted eight wins from his last nine UFC fights and had risen to #13 in the promotion’s welterweight rankings.