UFC 288: Dana White Confirms Winner of Muhammad vs. Burns Next for Title

Belal Muhammad, UFC 288
Belal Muhammad, UFC 288 pre-fight press conference

Yes, the winner of Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns, the UFC 288 co-main event, will be next in line for a welterweight title shot.

After Colby Covington, anyway.

While both fighters have said such promises were made in conjunction with their five-round co-feature, UFC President Dana White confirmed it during Thursday’s UFC 288 pre-fight press conference.

“100%,” White said to the notion of the Muhammad vs. Burns winner getting the title shot. And as far as being worried about having to wait an extended period of time to get to the belt, with Covington vs. Edwards rumored for October, “they won’t be out long,” White promised. “They won’t be out long. And yes, the guy who wins this fight will get the next shot.”

The chance for gold is a reward for two fighters who stepped up on short notice to give UFC 288 a main event, after Charles Oliveira was forced to postpone his fight with Beneil Dariush.

“That’s one of the things I love most about this sport. I love people who take opportunities, and yeah, there’s definitely plenty of those on this card,” White said when asked about the willingness of his guys to step up.

As for Burns and Muhammad, they took different approaches at Thursday’s presser.

“He’s good everywhere, he’s tough, he knows how to win. I think ti’s going to be a war,” Burns said of Muhammad, reiterating statements he made during media day. “A lot of guys don’t put respect on this guy, this guy deserves a lot of respect. He’s that tough, it’s going to be a war.”

The pair did cross paths in wrestling, noted Burns, and Muhammad claimed a headbutt on his part drew first blood. That brought about a chorus of boos from a very pro-Burns crowd.

“For all the fans out there booing, now I know why the Nets left New Jersey and they’re in Brooklyn. Because you guys suck! The fans here are terrible,” Muhammad exclaimed, embracing the heel role.

When Muhammad expressed his desire to find a finish on Saturday, the boo-birds returned en mass. “I love that energy. Keep that energy Saturday night. Keep that energy Saturday night. I’m going to smash your boy!”

UFC 288 takes place this Saturday, May 6, 2023 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.