Belal Muhammad Disputes Leon Edwards’ Title Shot Denial: Expresses Frustration

Belal Muhammad, on a 10-fight unbeaten streak, feels overlooked for a UFC welterweight title shot by champion Leon Edwards, who prefers other contenders despite Muhammad’s strong record and having served as a backup for UFC 296.

Belal Muhammad knew the UFC 296 spotlight should’ve been his. Yet, he watched Colby Covington snag his third welterweight title shot. And he did so with a smile, albeit a forced one.

Covington’s chance came and went, with a performance that barely stirred the crowd. Edwards dominated, round after round. Muhammad, ever the professional, had made weight just in case. He hoped this would cement his status as the top contender.

But Edwards wasn’t convinced. Despite Muhammad’s impressive 10-fight unbeaten run, Edwards shrugged it off. “There are definitely other options,” he said, dismissing Muhammad’s claim to the next title shot.

Muhammad was irate. He couldn’t fathom Edwards’ disregard for him as the division’s rightful challenger. After all, Edwards himself had once been in Muhammad’s shoes, patiently collecting victories.

“That’s what grinds my gears,” Muhammad vented to MMA Fighting. Edwards’ indifference, more than their botched fight, was what truly rankled him. “It’s not even about the foul anymore,” he said, recalling the eye-poke incident. “Now, it’s about the stats.”

Their records were nearly identical. Both had impressive streaks marred only by their inconclusive bout. In 2021, an accidental eye poke from Edwards ended their fight prematurely. No rematch came to pass.

Since that night, Muhammad has been unstoppable. He’s taken down notable fighters like Gilbert Burns and “Wonderboy” Thompson. Yet, Edwards keeps looking past him.

Muhammad pointed out the irony. “When you were climbing, you beat guys outside the top 5,” he said to Edwards. “I’ve got four top 5 victories.” He listed his wins over elite opponents, his voice tinged with frustration.

“He’s not skipping the line,” Edwards had claimed. Muhammad couldn’t believe it. “Is this guy serious?” he wondered aloud. He’d fought tooth and nail for every opportunity, rejecting any notion of an easy path to the top.

Muhammad’s journey was a testament to his grit. He’d stepped in to fight Burns on short notice. Nothing was handed to him; he’d earned his stripes the hard way. Edwards’ dismissal of his efforts was infuriating.

Yet, within their division, many saw Muhammad as the true No. 1 contender. Even the undefeated Shavkat Rakhmonov agreed. “Even Shavkat said it!” Muhammad exclaimed, acknowledging Rakhmonov’s own victory over Wonderboy.

Muhammad’s goal was clear. He wanted to fight the best at 170 and be remembered as the greatest welterweight. “I’m not looking for easy fights,” he declared. “I want to beat everyone they think can beat me.”

Deep down, Muhammad was confident the UFC would grant him his shot at the title. He was always prepared, ready to face Edwards whenever, wherever—even in England.

“I’m fine with any location,” Muhammad stated. “Backyard, London, wherever.” He envisioned defeating Edwards on his home turf as the perfect culmination of his arduous journey.

The tension spilled onto social media. Following an interview on *The MMA Hour*, Edwards’ coach expressed a preference to fight Burns instead. Muhammad accused Edwards of dodging him, prompting Edwards to dismiss him as “the least intimidating person in the organization.”


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