Manager: Belal Muhammad fighting for welterweight title next, ‘nothing else makes sense for him’
Belal Muhammad will keep a close eye on the welterweight title fight headlining UFC 296 with plans to challenge the winner in 2024.
Currently riding a 10-fight unbeaten streak, which includes a no contest with reigning champion Leon Edwards, Muhammad earned his spot as the No. 1 contender in the division after the blanked Gilbert Burns at UFC 288 in May. More recently, however, UFC CEO Dana White hinted at Muhammad booking another fight before the end of the year while Edwards prepares to face Colby Covington in December.
While anything is possible where UFC matchmaking is concerned, Muhammad’s longtime manager Ali Abdelaziz feels confident that the promotion will follow through on his promised title shot even if that means waiting until next year to get it.
“Dana’s a promoter and whatever Dana says, I take to the bank,” Abdelaziz told MMA Fighting. “Dana promised him a title shot. I’ll close my eyes and I’ll sleep [well]. Dana always keeps his word. He’s the No. 1 contender.
“This is my prediction. I believe something will happen Dec. 16. I believe Belal Muhammad will go there and I believe Belal Muhammad will become the UFC welterweight champion. Even if that doesn’t happen, that’s OK. These two guys fight, the winner will fight Belal Muhammad.”
The only fighter currently ahead of Muhammad in the official UFC rankings is former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman but he just recently moved to middleweight for a short-notice opportunity against Khamzat Chimaev.
While no decision has been made regarding his next fight, Usman already hinted at sticking around at 185 pounds and maybe even challenging Dricus Du Plessis in early 2024.
The rest of the top welterweights are already booked, which leaves Muhammad in a position where it’s almost title shot or bust at this point.
“Nothing else makes sense for him,” Abdelaziz said. “Not even the Kamaru fight, it would have to be financial things but now Kamaru is a middleweight.
“Belal Muhammad was always the No. 1 contender. It was not ‘maybe fight this guy, maybe fight that guy.’ No, he was the No. 1 contender and he is next for the title. Because I believe anything Dana White says, I do.”
There’s no word yet if Muhammad could potentially serve as the backup for the Edwards vs. Covington fight in December but either way it appears at worse he’ll be getting ready to challenge the winner after Dec. 16 is over.