Belal Muhammad: A Problem for the UFC's Welterweight Division
The Palestinian-American is looking to become the UFC's first Arab champion.
Although Belal Muhammad’s first fight in the UFC didn’t go his way, he showed the heart of a champion. Since then, the 170-pound contender has fought some of the most famous names in the division as he continues to chase the sought-after welterweight strap. Like the division’s other top-ranked competitors, the 32-year-old believes that he has what it takes to win the belt and become the UFC’s first Arabian champion. So, let’s consider whether Muhammad is capable of becoming the 170-pound king.
Putting Together an Impressive Run of Wins
Muhammad, who goes by the nickname "Remember the Name," has a professional record of 18 wins and three defeats. Thus far, all three of his career losses have come in the UFC. As touched on above, his time with the promotion didn’t get off to the best start as he lost to Alan Jouban via unanimous decision. Muhammad bounced back two months later with a third-round stoppage victory over Augusto Montano before being finished by Vicente Luque in November 2016.
Following a tricky start to his time with the promotion, Muhammad found his feet and grew in confidence after his first-round defeat to Luque, the current No. 7-ranked welterweight fighter. True to his name, the Palestinian-American fighter made it hard for MMA fans to forget that he was a threat at 170 pounds. Rather impressively, the ranked contender put together a four-fight winning streak, beating Randy Brown, Jordan Mein, Tim Means, and Chance Rencountre, respectively.
While a decision loss to Geoff Neal followed, Muhammad once again bounced back to put together the second four-bout winning run of his UFC career. As a reward for his efforts, the 32-year-old stepped in on short notice to face Leon Edwards at UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs Muhammad after Khamzat Chimaev withdrew from the main-event fight. Unfortunately for the Palestinian-American competitor, the contest was ruled as a no contest following a succession of unintentional eye pokes from the English fighter. As such, his dreams of claiming the belt from the welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, who wanted to face Jorge Masvidal at UFC 249, as we wrote at bettorsinsider.com, were put on hold.
Flying the Flag for Arabian Fighters
As MMA Junkie states, Muhammad is one of few Arabian representatives in the UFC. Despite being born in Chicago, the 32-year-old proudly holds the Palestine flag inside the cage. While he is not alone in representing the Arabian community, he is currently the closest fighter to winning a championship, ahead of Khalid Taha and Nordine Taleb, for example. Regarding the UFC’s long-term future in Arab regions, MMA Junkie also states that Dana White, the company’s president, is hoping to invest in the area following the success of UFC Fight Island.
There can be no doubts that Arab regions are currently an untapped market regarding mixed martial arts potential. However, that is likely to change over the coming years. In The Guardian, White is quoted as saying that the UFC is making a “long-term commitment” to Abu Dhabi, which speaks volumes about the area’s ever-growing MMA fan base.
If Muhammad can become the welterweight champion, it opens plenty of doors for the UFC from a marketing standpoint. The 32-year-old's talent, combined with the region’s love of combat sports, means that he’ll likely develop into an overnight star should he win the belt. Nowadays, MMA fans in Arabian countries can immerse themselves in highly-anticipated fights and Muhammad’s career at a handful of top-rated betting sites listed at arabianbetting.com. The platform’s reviewed sites cover numerous sports, including MMA, while they also accept high rollers. Not only that, but many provide live in-play betting, which brings local fans closer to the excitement of high-level combat sports.
Does Muhammad Have What It Takes?
At the time of writing, Muhammad will meet Demian Maia at UFC 263 on June 13th, which will provide a more accurate reflection of his level. The 32-year-old has fallen short against high-profile names so far in his career, but he’s also responded to those setbacks with winning streaks. Few fighters share the Palestinian-American's fight IQ and adaptability, and those skills will serve him well in his pursuit of the welterweight title. Because of that, it would be daft to write him off. Muhammad is still a problem at 170 pounds.