Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight bruisers Tim Means and Belal Muhammad squared off last night (Nov. 18, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 121 inside the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.
Means came into this bout on the fringe of the top 15, hoping to make that final step. The lanky striker had some solid wins under his belt, but adding another over a rising prospect like “Remember the Name” would go a long way in pushing him forward.
Meanwhile, Muhammad became a fighter to watch at 170 lbs. almost immediately. Even with two UFC losses on his record, Muhammad’s exciting style made him a must-watch up-and-comer.
Means opened with pressure, walking Muhammad into the fence and shooting left hands to the chest and jaw. To his credit, Muhammad didn’t just let that happen, circling actively and looking to surprise Means by suddenly bursting towards him with heavy shots.
The exchanges were fast and extremely competitive. Muhammad mostly boxed, doing a lot of work his left hook. Means mixed it up and landed some kicks as well, but either was the exchanges were very even.
Neither man really took control of the bout, making it a tight round. That said, Muhammad did have a slight volume advantage.
Muhammad landed a brief takedown in the second, but he was unable to keep Means down. Once back on his feet, Means really seemed to find his range, as his straight punches and teep kicks were landing a bit more consistently. On the other side of the equation, Muhammad wasn’t gassed, but a bit of the spring in his step had evaporated. He caught a second win, landing some nice looping shots towards the end of the round.
Heading into the third, the decision was very much up for grabs.
In an attempt to take the round, Muhammad switched his approach a bit, backing Means up at times. His volume increased a bit as well, but that also allowed Means to land more frequently. The exchanges saw both men score reasonably often, but “Dirty Bird” made Muhammad miss quite a bit with his slick head movement.
Ultimately, it was another close round that Tim Means seemed to edge. His experience showed itself, as he was able to slip out of the way of strikes just a bit more often, and his straight shots connected at a better rate.
Despite that, Muhammad was awarded the split-decision victory.
Though I may not have scored it for “Remember the Name,” it was far from a bad decision. The bout featured a ton of kickboxing that saw both men landing, meaning it’s easy to see the argument for each fighter. On the whole, Muhammad was less accurate, but he arguably landed the hardest shots of the fight.
A couple brief takedowns don’t hurt either.
There’s also a stylistic reason that Muhammad’s hand was raised. Means stuck to crisp straight shots that were definitely effective, but they were less appealing than Muhammad’s wide overhand or head-turning left hook. They’re all power shots, but Muhammad looked like he was landing more powerful blows.
Close decision or no, it’s another win in the books for Muhammad. He’s deserving of a top 15 foe, perhaps someone along the lines of Alex Oliveira.
I don’t have any overly harsh criticism of Means either. He was slightly out-worked by a high-volume fighter, but Means actually landed more overall thanks to his accuracy. His takedown defense also held up, which is always a factor when two fighters are otherwise engaged in a kickboxing match.
The only thing I really would have liked to see from Means is more low kicks. His outside low kick spun Muhammad around a couple times as he tried to circle away from Means’ power, and more of them would’ve benefited Means. Throwing a few to the inside of Muhammad’s leg would have slowed him down as well and further set up the outside kicks.
Last night, Belal Muhammad’s hand was raised following a close bout. What’s next for the up-and-coming Welterweight?
For complete UFC Fight Night 121 “Werdum vs. Tybura” results and play-by-play, click HERE!