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Belal Muhammad
Belal "Remember the Name" Muhammad beat Vicente Luque at UFC Vegas 51. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

What is Next for Belal Muhammad Following UFC Vegas 51?

Belal Muhammad
Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad beat Vicente Luque at UFC Vegas 51. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

What is Next for Belal Muhammad Following UFC Vegas 51?

Belal Muhammad had the biggest win of his career on Saturday at UFC Vegas 51 beating the #5 ranked welterweight Vicente Luque. Muhammad entered the fight ranked #6 and should now have a date with a top-four fighter, but which matchup makes the most sense?

The win over Luque was the first time that Muhammad has beaten a top-five ranked opponent and he did so in an impressive fashion. He controlled Luque for nearly seven and a half minutes and that was because he took down the Brazilian five times. The five takedowns were the most that Luque has allowed in a fight since he was taken down three times by Leon Edwards in 2017.

Muhammad may have been slightly outstruck but did more than enough to secure a unanimous decision victory and get revenge for his 2016 knockout loss to Luque. With the win, Muhammad extended his winning streak to three and his unbeaten streak to eight. Only four fighters in the top 10 of the UFC’s welterweight division have a longer unbeaten streak and three of them are ranked above Muhammad including the champion Kamaru Usman.

If it had not been for a no-contest against Edwards the winning streak could be eight and we could see Muhammad in the title conversation. That fight was ruled a no-contest after Muhammad was poked in the eye and could not continue. He has looked even more impressive since that fight though beating Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, and Luque. In each fight we see Muhammad competing in he looks more and more dominant. What he did to a former title challenger in Thompson was incredible as he took down “Wonderboy” seven times and controlled the fight for 12 out of 15 minutes. Prior to this fight, Thompson had only been taken down 10 times in 17 fights.

Now by beating Luque, Muhammad has secured a place among the best in the welterweight division, but there are some dangerous fighters ahead of him. Following his win at UFC Vegas 51 Muhammad called out Colby Covington, the #1 ranked contender, in his post fight interview. This would be a solid fight between two extremely strong grapplers, but according to UFC president Dana White, Covington will be fighting Khamzat Chimaev next. Chimaev beat then #2 ranked Gilbert Burns at UFC 273 in the fight of the year so far to jump from #11 to #3 in the rankings.

That leaves Usman, Edwards, and Burns ranked ahead of Muhammad. Despite being unbeaten in eight consecutive fights Muhammad is still a win or two away from fighting Usman for the belt. A second fight with Edwards would be one to consider, but it sounds like England’s Edwards will be the next challenger to step into the ring with Usman. That leaves Burns as the only fighter without a planned bout and he will be looking to get back in the win column after losing by decision to Chimaev and surprising everybody with how well he fought the UFC’s best prospect. Despite losing two of his last three, Burns is a very strong fighter that has competed with the best in the division and would bring a tough fight to Muhammad.

If the fight with Burns does not happen then it would make sense for Muhammad to fight with undefeated Sean Brady. Brady is 15-0 and ranked #9 in the welterweight division. Ending the unbeaten streak of a top 10 fighter would be huge for Muhammad and would put him one step closer to the belt.

When the updated rankings are released this week Muhammad should be in that #5 spot and a fight with Burns would make the most sense as he is still a dangerous and well-respected fighter. At 33 years of age, we may see Muhammad step into the octagon a couple more times in 2022 in an attempt to get the call for a title shot sooner rather than later.

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