UFC welterweight contender Belal Muhammad got a stiff finger to the eye from Leon Edwards at UFC Vegas 21, ending their 170-pound headliner by way of “No Contest” back in March 2021. Instead of booking an immediate rematch, the promotion sent both fighters in different directions.
Edwards believes that his follow-up fight, a unanimous decision victory over UFC fan favorite Nate Diaz — coupled with his nine straight wins — is enough to warrant a crack at current 170-pound champion Kamaru Usman, the last fighter to defeat “Rocky” when they first went to war back in late 2015.
Or maybe the 30 year-old Englishman is just playing politics.
“I think he’s playing the politics game,” Muhammad told MMA Fighting. “He knows that I’m a bad matchup for him. Before, he had that excuse ‘oh he’s [ranked] No. 12 it doesn’t make no sense for No. 3 to fight No. 12.’ Well now [I’m ranked] No. 5 — now what’s your excuse? There’s a card coming to London, why not?”
While Edwards was off fighting Diaz, the 33 year-old Muhammad was able to score back-to-back victories over Demian Maia (UFC 263) and Stephen Thompson (UFC Vegas 45). “Remember the Name” has won six straight and holds a 10-1 record over the last five years, pushing him up to No. 5 at 170 pounds.
“I feel like I’ve earned a skip in front of him already just based off of the level of opponent I’ve fought,” Muhammad said. “I’ve fought Maia and Wonderboy back-to-back. Who did he beat? [Rafael] dos Anjos and Nate Diaz, who are both [155-pounders]. He hasn’t fought any ranked 170-pounders that are actually ranked and good right now. It doesn’t make any sense to me but I’m not going to sit there and cry about it. I’m just going to get back on the horse and keep fighting.”
UFC is expected to make its London return in March.