Belal Muhammad likes his chances in a welterweight clash with top contender Khamzat Chimaev after seeing “Borz” compete against former UFC title challenger Gilbert Burns earlier this year.
Nothing is set in stone but Muhammad and Chimaev recently agreed on a meeting this October inside of the UFC’s fame Octagon. While the promotion would likely rather see Khamzat matched up against fan-favorite Nate Diaz a clash with Muhammad is the next best thing for “Borz.” After all, if Colby Covington isn’t willing to play ball then Chimaev’s quickest route to a title shot is a fight with Muhammad.
After starting his UFC career with four-straight wins nobody really knew how prolific Chimaev can be. He showed flashes of brilliance inside of the cage, but it came against lesser competition. That’s why Khamzat’s showdown with Burns at UFC 273 was so interesting. It was the first time Chimaev was facing a legitimate opponent who was going to test him in all departments.
While Chimaev came out victorious to push his undefeated professional record to 11-0 the welterweight contender finally looked human. He couldn’t control Burns on the ground like he did to other opponents, he was knocked down in the fight, and he was humbled in his inability to score a finish for the first time in his career.
For Muhammad, it was a great chance to learn about Khamzat’s complete MMA arsenal and what he did wrong against a former UFC title challenger in Burns.
“I saw weaknesses in him,” Muhammad told Food Truck Diaries. “Obviously people are like, ‘Oh man, he’s not as good as we thought he was.’ But I’m like, ‘Yo, he showed that he had the chin, he showed that he got power,’ and it’s like — you’re fighting Gilbert Burns.”
Muhammad, 33, is on his own path to a welterweight title shot. The former Titan FC welterweight champion is now 7-0 (1 NC) over his last eight Octagon outings and is coming off impressive performances against Stephen Thompson, Vicente Luque, and Demian Maia. If “Remember the Name” is able to score a meeting with Chimaev this fall he’s confident he can hand the Chechen fighter his first professional loss.
“When you get to the top five, if you’re not fighting with a strategy, you’re going to lose to the good guys,” Muhammad said. “For me, these last three fights I showed that I could fight with a strategy because they were all different fighters. I fought Demian Maia, who’s — I had to stay up on my feet. I could not get taken down, so it was all defensive wrestling. Then I fought ‘Wonderboy,’ and I’m not going to kickbox with ‘Wonderboy,’ so I’m you’re going to go in there and take ‘Wonderboy’ down.
“He’s not an easy guy to take down, and I don’t have college wrestling. I’m not a Division I wrestler, but I fight with a strategy, and I dominated more than anybody else has ever dominated him. Then you fight a guy like Luque, who’s knocked me out, who has the most finishes at welterweight and he’s good on his feet and good on the ground. How are you going to beat a guy like that? Oh well, with movement and footwork and then shooting in when he least expects it.”
What say you, fight fans? Did Khamzat show enough holes against Burns for us to believe Muhammad would defeat him?