Dana White: Winner of Gilbert Burns vs. Belal Muhammad at UFC 288 will get title shot
NEWARK, N.J. – Dana White remains firm that Colby Covington is next in line for a UFC welterweight title shot against champion Leon Edwards – but another title challenger will soon be added to the queue.
At a pre-fight news conference Thursday, White announced the winner of the UFC 288 co-main event between Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad will be next in line for a welterweight title shot.
“One hundred percent … yes, the guy who wins this fight will get the next shot,” White said.
Burns (22-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) and Muhammad (22-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) were not supposed to compete on the card until a few weeks ago. When the original co-main event, a lightweight matchup between Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush, was postponed in mid-April, the UFC negotiated Burns vs. Muhammad for a short notice, five-round bout that now officially has title implications.
Burns, 36 has competed for the promotion’s welterweight title once before. He challenged Kamaru Usman at UFC 258 in February 2021 and was finished by strikes in Round 2. Burns most recently competed April 8 at UFC 287 in a co-main event against Jorge Masvidal, whom he handily defeated by unanimous decision. The victory was his second straight.
Muhammad, 34, would align himself for his first crack at the promotion’s gold with a win. He currently is 8-0 with one no contest in his most recent nine appearances – a stretch of time dating back to early 2019.
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Video: UFC 288 pre-fight press conference live stream (5 p.m. ET)
Before Burns or Muhammad get a chance, Edwards will face Covington in a bout that has not yet been announced. Covington was the backup fighter for Edwards vs. Usman 3, which took place at UFC 286 in March.
White has stood firm by his choice for the next challenger, despite Covington’s relative inactivity and 2-2 record since December 2019.
“That was a no brainer,” White said March 25. “If Usman doesn’t exist, Colby’s been the champ now for a while. He’s been there forever. He cut the weight. He showed up to fill in for that fight and a million other reasons why he deserves that fight.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 288.