Belal Muhammad believes Leon Edwards scored an easy follow-up fight against Nate Diaz, but “Remember the Name” is still rooting for the Stockton native at UFC 263.
Muhammad (18-3) takes on veteran Demian Maia (28-10) on the same card, which takes place this weekend (Sat., June 12, 2021) inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Muhammad is coming off a “No Contest” against Edwards after a terrible eye-poke called a stop to their re-worked headliner a few months ago in the opening seconds of round two. Muhammad (No. 12) was upset with Edwards’ (No. 3) dismissive attitude after the fight, but he can see why “Rocky” turned down a potential rematch.
“It’s understandable,” Muhammad told MMAmania.com. “To me, I’m a way harder fight than Nate Diaz, but obviously, Nate Diaz has one of the biggest names in the game. I feel like even for the UFC, where the UFC probably wanted to book that one, you’re looking for a next opponent for Kamaru [Usman]. There isn’t really anyone with huge name value. Leon deserves it, but he has no followers, he’s not very active on social media. Especially these days when you need that social media, you need fans to want to push for you. Masvidal got a rematch right after just because he’s so popular right now. For Leon Edwards, people are probably like, ‘Who is this guy?’ Fighters know he is on a nine-fight winning streak but fans don’t know because he has no personality. He’s bland when he talks.
“I’m sitting there rooting for Nate Diaz because if Leon loses, I’m going to be calling him out right away,” he continued. “Especially because we’re on the same card. If he loses, I think it’s a fight that makes sense if I come off this fight healthy and beating Demian Maia,” he added. “I’ve always wanted that Vicente Luque fight back, but definitely if Leon loses I want that one for sure. Other than that, I come out of this one and I want Luque.”
Before any talk of Edwards vs. Muhammad 2 can come to fruition, Muhammad must do away with the division’s most dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner.
“You know what he’s going to do,” Muhammad said when examining a blueprint to beat the submission ace. “He’s a specialist.”
“I’ve always wanted to fight Maia. He’s one of those guys that I honestly look up to. I study his tapes, see how he gets his takedowns,” he continued. “He’s one of those legends of the sports, like Donald Cerrone. Fans know him and fighters respect him. He’s one of those guys if I see him on the weekend in the street, I’m going to bow to him because he respects everyone and he’s earned respect because he’s been in the game so long.”
UFC 263 takes place inside Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., streaming live on ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV). The fan-filled event is headlined by a rematch pitting UFC Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya opposite Marvin Vettori. Also on the card is a Flyweight title rematch between division champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, and No. 1-seeded challenger, Brandon Moreno.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 263 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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