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Belal Muhammad: Kamaru Usman (not Shavkat Rakhmonov) makes ‘most sense’ for next opponent

UFC Fight Night: Luque v Muhammad 2 Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Belal Muhammad knows what he wants next.

The top of the Welterweight division has been in turmoil since UFC 287 concluded last month (March 18, 2023). Leon Edwards successfully made his first title defense, defeating Kamaru Usman via a majority decision, leading him to an apparent showdown with the No. 2-ranked contender, Colby Covington.

Meanwhile, top contenders riding lengthy winning streaks like Muhammad sit waiting in the wings confused as can be. The 34-year-old currently sits at No. 4 in the Welterweight rankings, possessing the arguable best case for a title shot on paper. Instead, he’ll likely have to get through one more opponent at the very least before getting his shot at gold. UFC President, Dana White, has publicly stated that they want to match “Remember the Name” with surging undefeated 16-0 contender, Shavkat Rakhmonov, but Muhammad feels there’s a more logical choice if not a title shot.

“For me, I knew it wasn’t gonna be an easy path,” Muhammad told MMA Junkie. “I knew I would have to claw and scratch my way all the way up to where I’m at today. Nothing was ever given to me, so I think for me it’s now getting what’s that big name?

“A guy like Kamaru Usman, former champion, a guy that people consider the G.O.A.T. in the division, a guy that was the reigning champ for so long,” he continued. “I think beating a guy like that that the mainstream world knows, the media knows, that’s what I can think only really makes sense. You look at when Leon was on this long streak, they gave him Nate Diaz because they were trying to do something to build him up. The dude doesn’t talk, the dude’s not good on the mic, he doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t promote himself. But for a guy like me, I’m promoting myself, I’m pushing myself. I think the only thing else that I need is just that one key win even though I do think I had it already. I think Kamaru would be that win.”

Muhammad recently met with White in Las Vegas, Nevada to discuss his next move and says things went well. Provided Gilbert Burns gets a big finish victory over Jorge Masvidal this weekend (Sat., April 8, 2023) at UFC 287, Muhammad would be open to facing him, too. Until then, Usman has the target on his back.

LIVE! Watch UFC 289 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

OCTAGON RETURNS TO THE GREAT WHITE NORTH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Canada for the first time in almost four years when it hosts UFC 289 inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sat., June 10, 2023. In UFC 289’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, women’s Bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes, will lock horns with No. 5-ranked 135-pound contender, Irene Aldana, while former Lightweight kingpin and current No. 1-seeded contender, Charles Oliveira, battles No. 4-ranked Beneil Dariush in the co-feature with 155-pound title implications on the line.

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