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Belal Muhammad declares he’s best welterweight in the world after UFC 288 win: ‘I told you guys’

NEWARK, N.J. – Belal Muhammad heard the doubters, which made the moment Saturday at UFC 288 that much sweeter.

In the co-main event at Prudential Center, Muhammad (23-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) defeated Gilbert Burns (22-6 MMA, 15-6 UFC) by unanimous decision. Whether it was because the fans expected a more exciting fight or for some other reason, the boos came afterward. Muhammad heard them and lightheartedly told the New Jersey crowd that they suck to their faces.

Regardless of any haters before, during, or after the fight, Muhammad said he proved something to the rest of the world that he already knew.

“I told you guys,” Muhammad told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a post-fight news conference. “I’m the best welterweight in the world. To go out there and beat a guy like Gilbert Burns on three weeks’ notice, coming off Ramadan, you guys have no idea what we went through to get to here. I love my team, love my crew. I know with our faith in ourselves and our faith in God, we can get through anything.”

The win Saturday solidified Muhammad’s long sought-after title shot, which will occur after champion Leon Edwards battles next-man-up Colby Covington.

Muhammad has history with Edwards and Covington, each in a different sense. Muhammad fought Edwards in March 2021 in a bout that ended in no contest after Edwards poked Muhammad in the eye.

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

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As for Muhammad’s beef with Covington, that one isn’t from competition. It’s just from general disdain, a similar feeling to the one much of the division has toward Covington.

“I’ve been wanting to fight that guy for years,” Muhammad said. “Since I got into the UFC, I’ve wanted to punch him in the face. He just has that face. If you’ve ever watched “Stepbrothers,” he has that face that you just want to punch. Colby Covington just has that face. He’s that guy that, if he gets 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 who wants to be active.”

Since the immediate title fight does not have a date, it could be a while before Muhammad gets his crack at the winner. He’d like UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi in October, though he knows that’s unlikely. Circumstances irrelevant, Muhammad said he’ll be ready whenever the time comes – against whoever.

“Just give me a cage and some gloves, and I’m ready to throw down,” Muhammad said.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 288.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie