Belal Muhammad has a big opportunity to launch himself into the UFC’s welterweight top five if he’s able to take out a red-hot Vicente Luque tomorrow night (Sat., April 16, 2022) at UFC Vegas 51 live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Fighting Luque is nothing new for Muhammad. The two fighters locked horns all the way back at UFC 205 in 2016 and Luque ended up defeating Muhammad via first-round knockout. It remains the only time Muhammad has been finished in his 10-year career and a loss that he desperately wants to get back.
That said, he has no ill will against Luque heading into their rematch this weekend in Las Vegas. Luque is not the type of guy to talk trash entering a fight, but Muhammad still feels like there is a chip on his shoulder from a fight that happened six years ago.
“I’m not a guy that has to hate you, but I do have that little chip on my shoulder,” Muhammad told MMA Fighting. “A little bit of an edge because of how I lost to him, and he’s the only person in my career to finish me. I don’t need the animosity to fuel me for this fight, especially because of the stakes of this fight.
“We’re the only two fighters in the top-five fighting each other. We’re both winning fights and we’re fighting each other at our hottest points.”
Muhammad, who is coming off back-to-back wins over Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia, isn’t entirely concerned about what comes next if he should beat Luque. “Remember the Name” simply wants to climb the ranks and take out whoever he needs to, unless a big money fight happens to present itself.
“I’ll just fight the next best guy,” Muhammad said. “Obviously, it’s in your head, people are asking you if the title shot’s next and you don’t want to give the same answer saying, ‘Oh I’m only worried about the fight in front of me.’
“Nowadays with big money fights and pay-per-views headlined by guys without titles like [Jorge] Masvidal and [Colby] Covington, it’s like there are other big names up there I could fight even after this win. Nate Diaz is looking for a retirement fight. He was calling out Luque for a while so I could call him out for a big money fight or maybe Masvidal or Colby.”
That said, Muhammad seems all-in for a potential clash with Colby Covington. After hearing what “Chaos” had to say about the family of Jorge Masvidal and Dustin Poirier, Muhammad is more than eager to put Covington in his place and teach him a lesson.
“It just shows that he’s literally a piece of trash,” said Muhammad of Covington. “He is a low life. To bring up a wife and kids — you don’t talk about somebody’s wife and kids. You don’t attack them. But then you’re going to keep doing that to copy [Conor] McGregor. Why? Cause you’re not original. You’re a loser. That’s one of those things like Dustin [Poirier] says, I’m not going to fight him in the cage, I’ll fight him in the street or I’ll fight him in the gym if I see him. Because when you’re talking about family or you’re talking about a wife and kids, it’s no longer professional. Those are fighting words.
“It’s no more you’re trying to sell a fight. You’re talking about my family. I’m going to hurt you. Colby definitely deserves to be hurt. Big coward calling out a 155-pounder, a smaller guy. Call guys that are at the top of the division.”
For now, Muhammad will have to get past Luque this weekend at UFC Vegas 51. And considering Luque has finished his last four trips to the Octagon that will be a tough task to pull off.
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