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New-look Belal Muhammad downplays rematch against Vicente Luque — ‘I consider it a whole new fight’

Part two? More like a do-over.

UFC 205 Weigh-in Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

With Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal removed from the 170-pound title picture, UFC’s welterweight division will open the door for a new batch of hungry contenders. That includes the winner of Belal Muhammad vs. Vicente Luque, a five-round battle that headlines the UFC Vegas 51 event next month in “Sin City.”

In addition, No. 2-ranked Gilbert Burns will try to quell the uprising of undefeated welterweight sensation Khamzat Chimaev when they go to war at the UFC 273 pay-per-view (PPV) in April. A victory for Chimaev is likely to earn “Borz” the winner of Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards after they rematch for the 170-pound title later this year.

“If I beat Luque and [Khamzat] goes out there and beats Gilbert, they’re going to give him the title shot,” Muhammad told MMA Fighting. “If I go out there and beat Gilbert and he beats Luque, they’re going to give [Chimaev] a title shot. It would have been a [more fun] build-up with Khamzat, but of course, I’m super happy to fight a guy like Luque, who’s No. 4, who’s on a huge streak, who’s coming off a huge win against [Michael] Chiesa, and a guy that weighed in to be the alternate for the title fight when Colby [Covington] and Usman fought. So the UFC obviously thinks highly of him.”

Luque (No. 4) captured a knockout win over Muhammad (No. 5) when they first went to war at UFC 205 back in late 2016. Since then, “The Silent Assassin” (21-7-1) is 10-2 with nine finishes while “Remember the Name” (20-3) is 10-1 with one No Contest and one finish.

“I don’t even really consider it a rematch,” Muhammad continued. “I consider it a whole new fight because I’m a whole new fighter. That’s why I wanted this fight, to prove that I’m a whole new fighter and a different fighter. It’s going to be a whole different fight. So obviously I gain something from this fight. If I go out there and finish [Luque], beat him, there’s nothing that can deny me as well. Even when I beat [Demian] Maia, they said he’s old. When I beat ‘Wonderboy,’ everybody was saying he was old. Now I’m fighting a guy that knocked me out, a guy that’s young, a guy that’s knocking everybody out, finishing everybody, I go out and finish him — what excuse can you give now?”

To see who else is fighting at UFC Vegas 51 click here.