Belal Muhammad wants his title shot and he’ll do anything to get it.
It turns out that includes serving as the backup for the upcoming UFC 296 main event where Leon Edwards will defend the welterweight title against Colby Covington. Muhammad, who is currently riding a 10 fight unbeaten streak, will hit the scales and weigh-in as the backup just in case something happens to either fighter in the title fight.
Sources close to the situation confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Sunday after Muhammad first revealed his role as the backup fighter to MMA Junkie.
After a dominant win over Gilbert Burns in May, Muhammad was promised he would become the No. 1 contender in the division but Covington had already been promised the next title shot at welterweight.
Unfortunately for Muhammad, the UFC didn’t actually schedule Edwards vs. Covington until December so he’s been on the sidelines awaiting his opportunity to compete for gold.
He’ll now serve as the backup for UFC 296 with hopes that a fight with the winner is awaiting him in 2024.
Edwards addressed Muhammad as a potential contender when speaking with MMA Fighting ahead of his title defense on Saturday. The welterweights met previously in 2021 with the fight ending in a no contest after an accidental eye poke from Edwards ended Muhammad’s night prematurely.
“Is he the No. 1 contender? I don’t know. Would I fight him again? Absolutely,” Edwards said. “That’s easy work. That’s easy money. If he is the guy next, he’s the guy. But does anyone want to see that? Probably not but if he’s the guy, then I’ll happily silence him.”
While Muhammad is backing up the main event, former UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno will take on the same duty for the co-main event where Alexandre Pantoja defends his title against Brandon Royval.