Gilbert Burns Says Belal Muhammad Can Defeat Leon Edwards Despite Lack of Entertainment Value

Despite being the unanimous No. 1 contender in the division, Belal Muhammad was not considered for the main event at UFC 300 against welterweight champion Leon Edwards, with public opinion and fellow fighter Gilbert Burns asserting that Muhammad deserves the next title shot.

UFC 300 was on the hunt for a main event. Leon Edwards, the welterweight champ, was offered numerous opponents. He didn’t back down from any. Oddly enough, Belal Muhammad, the unanimous No. 1 contender, wasn’t on the list.

The UFC didn’t end up booking Edwards for the April 13 event. The public, however, has largely declared Muhammad as the rightful next contender.

Gilbert Burns, who lost to Muhammad in May, has no doubts. He believes Muhammad deserves the title shot. He even thinks Muhammad has a solid chance of defeating Edwards. But he gets why Muhammad might not have been the first pick for a high-profile main event.

Burns told MMA Fighting, “I think the fight is way closer than people think. I’ve watched a lot of both fighters. Belal has a better chance than people think. It might not be an entertaining fight, that’s why it’s not at UFC 300.”

Burns may not be thrilled to watch Muhammad, but he stands by him as the No. 1 contender.

Muhammad’s main problem? He’s not well-known to the mainstream audience. Burns thinks Muhammad’s own actions contribute to this. He often makes comments that rub people the wrong way.

“Belal deserves it even though he’s not the most entertaining style,” Burns said. “He’s not too smart with some things he says. He tried to pick a fight. People in Brazil hate him just because he beat me. It’s all good, he beat me fair and square, he deserves the title shot. But then he goes out there and says Charles Oliveira got a cut, he ran away from the fight with Islam Makhachev. He’s attracting a lot of bad comments, a lot of bad energy.”

Burns thinks Muhammad’s comments don’t help him. He’s not as entertaining as fans like. But he keeps winning fights. He’s on a 10-fight win streak. Burns believes he deserves the title shot.

If the matchup happens, Burns slightly favors Edwards. But he’s not sure the reigning champ will remain so.

Burns knows Muhammad’s relentless style from their 25-minute cage fight. It may not earn him many awards, but it gets him wins.

“If Belal makes it a dog fight, if he can use wrestling, he has a crazy gas tank — if he’s inside making it a dog fight, I think he can win,” Burns said. “I think that’s exactly what he’s going to try to do. I do think Leon is the favorite but I will say, it’s less than 55-45. It’s way closer.”

“Belal Muhammad is good everywhere. He’s not great anywhere but he’s good everywhere and he knows how to win a fight. He’s a tough guy to fight. I don’t think Leon is underestimating him but if he does, Belal can get a win. It’s a lot closer than people think. Belal Muhammad is that good. He’s not that entertaining but he’s very, very good. I do believe it’s going to be closer than people think. Belal can get a win in that fight.”

Burns has his own fight against Jack Della Maddalena at UFC 299. He hopes to put himself back in the title conversation with a win.

After Edwards defended his title against Colby Covington in December, his head coach Dave Lovell said that Burns “brings more to the table than Belal Muhammad” when contemplating what comes next for his fighter.

Burns appreciates the nod — even if he still believes Muhammad deserves the shot over him — but at least he knows he’s got Edwards’ attention.

“It’s good for me at least to see that Leon Edwards’ team is looking for me,” Burns said. “I believe a big win over Jack [Della] Maddalena, a finish will get me super close to another title shot.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -