Who is the biggest threat to the top of the welterweight division?
Expect to hear names like undefeated up-and-comer Khamzat Chimaev, or fellow unbeaten phenom Shavkat Rakhmonov. But welterweight veteran Matt Brown, one of the division’s most violent fighters, believes Belal Muhammad is the contender to make his mark in 2023.
“If you want to talk about biggest threat to [Kamaru] Usman, I’m going with Belal Muhammad,” Brown told The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I think Belal Muhammad is probably the biggest threat to all of these guys. I think Usman beats Leon and the champ at the end of the year is either Belal or Usman. I think Belal beats Khamzat and I’m 50-50 on him beating Usman. That’s a really, really close fight that I think goes to a decision and is probably a really tough call for the judges.”
Muhammad (22-3, 1 NC) is unbeaten across his last nine fights and put the division on notice by smashing top 170-pound prospect Sean Brady at UFC 280 last Oct. in Abu Dhabi. “Remember the Name,” who turned 34 last July, is currently ranked No. 3 in the division.
“I think Belal is the biggest threat to Usman,” Brown continued. “I don’t think anyone is going to disagree that Usman is probably going to beat Leon, barring another fifth round knockout kind of homerun hit. Something like that. Him fighting Usman is what I would love to see. I’m 50-50 on that fight. I’m not totally convinced Usman beats Belal Muhammad. That’s a tough fight for him. Just again, it’s that pace. Belal keeps such a pace, has a great chin, keeps coming forward, keeps throwing punches, hits hard.”
Muhammad may end up rematching Edwards after battling to a No Contest in early 2021. Usman, who was expected to rematch “Rocky” this March in London, is still recovering from a hand injury and may not be cleared to compete, possibly paving the way for Muhammad.
Expect a definitive answer at some point over the next few weeks.