As it turned out, it was Muhammad who went down to defeat in their UFC Brooklyn welterweight bout. Neal combined a big left hand and superlative takedown defense to ride to a unanimous decision victory and his fifth consecutive victory. The judges’ scores were 29-28 and a pair of 30-27s.
“Belal is a real tough opponent, we knew that when we accepted the fight,” Neal said. “I expected a decision.”
Neal (11-2) laid down the law in the opening round, as he found his home with left jabs and followed up with overhands. Muhammad, for his part, tried to implement his ground game, but Neal was able to thwart him, including a fine post-up to narrowly avoid a takedown.
“I was ready for whatever he threw at me here,” Neal said of his takedown defense.
The second was the closest round of the fight, as Muhammad started to land solid body shots with bad intentions. But in the closing seconds of the round, Neal sprawled another takedown attempt and swarmed his foe until the horn in a flurry that likely put the round in his favor.
In the third, Neal put his stamp on the verdict. He dropped the bloodied Muhammad with a left hand, dropped him again with a head kick, and made his eighth successfully defended takedown. Muhammad, to his credit, pushed forward and tried to find a home-run finish right until the final horn.
Neal is now 3-0 in the UFC, plus a Contender Series win. Muhammad dropped to 14-3.