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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Nolan King and MMA Junkie Radio

Belal Muhammad confident Dana White keeps word, expects ‘weak mentally’ Leon Edwards at UFC 300

It’s all coming together for Belal Muhammad, at least in his self-assessment.

With a title challenge against Leon Edwards rumored for the UFC 300 card April 13 in Las Vegas, Muhammad (23-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) recently told MMA Junkie he hasn’t heard any specifics himself. Regardless of the where and when, Muhammad voiced confidence there was no question of “will.”

“I’m just hoping (UFC CEO) Dana (White) is waiting to do one of those epic announcements,” Muhammad recently told MMA Junkie Radio. “But for me, I think it’s the time that’s going to happen. I feel like I’m ready for it. He said he wants to fight on 300. It makes sense but nothing is finalized until I get a contract. Once I get that, I’ll be satisfied. But for now, it’s just knowing that’s the last thing that Dana told me. I’m next. Dana is not a man to go against his word. We’re just waiting for everything to be finalized and set in stone and ready to go.

“… My last fight, we took it on three weeks notice, for Gilbert Burns. It was one of those moments where I was over there and I was like, there was still a lot of unknowns before taking that fight. It was like, ‘Well, it could be this or it could be that. We don’t know what’s next yet.’ But when I took that fight, they’re like, ‘If you beat Gilbert Burns, you’re next.’ So now, there is no more unknown. We know who’s up next for the title fight. Now, it’s the date, which doesn’t even really matter to me. I’ll fight next week. I’ll fight tomorrow. Just give me that title on the line, I’ll show up and be ready to go.”

Muhammad is already in training hard, which isn’t totally unusual for him. His home base is a small gym, Chicago Fight Team, so Muhammad is constantly assisting his teammates with their fights.

For that, and many other reasons, Muhammad will be ready whenever the promotion calls and has some travel plans for his official training camp.

“I’m planning to go to Dagestan and train with those guys, like you said, to get a new look, to get different feels,” Muhammad said. “Those guys don’t let you take any days off or any easy rounds. That’s always perfect for me. Last time I trained with those guys, we got a dominant finish. I plan to do the same thing.”

Muhammad weighed in as the backup fighter for the UFC 296 main event between Leon Edwards and Colby Covington, and pulled no punches in it’s aftermath. Muhammad was unimpressed by the lackluster bout and called it “a joke to the division.”

It’s been nearly three years since Edwards poked Muhammad in the eye, which resulted in an unfortunate no contest. Since then, Muhammad has hankered for a rematch – but to no avail (yet).

Having closely watched his foe’s path thereafter, Muhammad explained in detail why he feels confident he’ll walk away with the title should the rematch happen.

“The path I had to go since the Leon fight was way different than him,” Muhammad said. “You fought Nate Diaz, who you should’ve been able to walk through. You didn’t. You fought Usman, who was killing you. He had you broken mentally and you landed a head kick. OK. Then, your rematch, you did what you just did to Colby. You made it a lackluster fight. You didn’t fight. You hit and moved, hit and moved, hit and moved. I think it was more so that Usman wasn’t himself that fight because he came back a little bit too soon. I still thought Usman won that fight. If we’re looking at growth, if we’re looking at complete martial artists, if we’re looking at who’s bettering themself, I’ve gotten better every single one of my fights. He hasn’t.”

While they’re unlikely to agree on much, Muhammad echoed Covington’s recent sentiments that Edwards struggles with mental toughness – particularly pointing to coach Dave Lovell’s motivational mid-fight speeches.

“I think Leon having to fight somebody like me, who is hungry, who has been fighting the best guys in the world, it’s going to be a different kind of fight for him,” Muhammad said. “He’s going to realize that when he’s in the cage and his motivational speaker who he has in his corner in between rounds, he can’t really give him advice. ‘Beautiful, Leon. Beautiful.’ When you have coaches like that who give you that type of advice in between (rounds), that just tells me how weak mentally you are. You need those type of guys with you. Like, have David Goggins in your corner because you’re going to need more motivation that ever when you fight me.”

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