UFC 288: Belal Muhammad Has Wanted to Fight Punchable Colby Covington for Years

Newark, NJ — Belal Muhammad was in good spirits following a unanimous decision win over Gilbert Burns at UFC 288. And for good reason.

Muhammad (23-3, 1NC) did more than just beat a former title challenger, he secured a shot at the UFC welterweight championship itself. And did so while facing a fair amount of adversity beyond Burns, Muhammad revealed after the fight.

“I told you guys, I’m the best welterweight in the world, and to go out there and beat a guy like Gilbert Burns, three weeks notice, coming off Ramadan— you guys had no idea what we went through to get to here, but I love my team, I love my crew, and I know with our faith in ourselves and our faith in God, we can do anything,” Muhammad told media outlets including Cageside Press back stage at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

There had been talk online both prior to the fight and while it was unfolding that Muhammad might have been injured. While Gilbert Burns had clearly injured his left hand/arm in the fight, a photo of Muhammad sporting a swollen ankle made the rounds in advance of UFC 288.

“You go into every fight a little bit injured, especially a three-week notice fight,” Muhammad acknowledged, without going into specifics. Still, as he pointed out, with a short-notice opportunity, often times you rush into training — a recipe for disaster. Not that he ever considered pulling out.

“There’s nothing that was going to stop me from walking to this cage tonight. There was nothing that was going to stop me from doing it,” stated Muhammad. “Because this was my chance. This was my moment to prove to the world and show the world what I’m capable of doing. And to do that, I knew that there was no pulling out, there was no “aww man, never mind.”

“Once I made the decision, we had to go through with it, and thank God we got through it.”

Now, it’s on to a title shot against the winner of champ Leon Edwards versus Colby Covington — a fight announced by UFC President Dana White, but not yet booked. Of course, White at the time suggested Muhammad was being lined up to fight Shavkat Rakhmonov. The fight business can turn on a dime, but Muhammad has faith in his boss.

“Both of them can get it. I cannot wait,” replied Muhammad, asked about his preference in opponent. “I’m just glad that the boss, the man, shout out to Dana for saying it, and giving me the opportunity to fight for my shot. And now I earned my shot, I took my shot, there’s no denying me now. All I needed to hear is ‘there’s nothing next but the title shot.'”

With Covington’s trash talk, and Belal Muhammad no slouch on the mic, that match-up might be the more profitable endeavor. Muhammad admitted Saturday that he’s wanted to fight “Chaos” for some time now.

“I’ve been wanting to fight that guy for years, literally since I got into the UFC, I just wanted to fight and punch him in his face. He just has that face. You ever watch Stepbrothers, that face that you want to just punch? Colby Covington has that face,” exclaimed Muhammad. “But he’s that guy, if he has that title, I could see him wanting to sit out for another two years. It’s been what, a year and a half since he fought? He’s not a guy that wants to be active.”

“Leon Edwards, we have unfinished business. He beat the GOAT, he has the longest winning streak, so for me, taking that title from him, especially the way that last fight went, and for him to be satisfied with a decision like that, it feels sweet either way. Both of those guys can taste my fists, and I’ll be happy with either one.”

Watch the full UFC 288 post-fight press conference with Belal Muhammad above.