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‘New blood’ Belal Muhammad makes case for title shot after UFC Vegas 45 win over Stephen Thompson

Belal Muhammad dominated Stephen Thompson for three rounds to win a decision in Las Vegas.
Zuffa LLC

Belal Muhammad closed 2021 with the biggest win of his MMA career, out-grappling and dominating Stephen Thompson en route to a one-sided decision in the co-main event of Saturday night’s UFC Vegas 45, and called for a title shot next.

Unbeaten in his past seven octagon appearances over two years with victories over the likes of Demian Maia, Muhammad spoke with the media at the post-fight press conference at the UFC APEX and explained why he, not Leon Edwards, should be next for 170-pound titleholder Kamaru Usman.

“Who’s ever beaten ‘Wonderboy’ 30-26? Who’s ever beaten ‘Wonderboy’ that style? Nobody’s ever beaten him that way,” Muhammad said. “‘Wonderboy’s’ fought for the title twice, Demian Maia has fought for the title twice, I beat both of those guys in dominant fashion. So, like, you’re telling me Leon Edwards deserves it over me? He almost got knocked out by Nate Diaz. Nate Diaz didn’t lose that fight, Nate Diaz never loses a fight.

“The way I just beat ‘Wonderboy,’ nobody’s ever done that to him. Even Gilbert Burns beat him dominantly, but it wasn’t like that. I deserve that title shot next because — my streak is as long as Leon’s, and Leon’s already lost to Usman, so let’s stop with these rematches, let’s stop with the, ‘Oh, he beat Colby [Covington] twice, he beat [Jorge] Masvidal twice, and now he’s the GOAT.’ No, give him new blood.”

The only hiccup in Muhammad’s undefeated run is a no-contest against Edwards in March, a bout that ended prematurely in round two following an accidental eye poke. Considering Usman already holds a win over Edwards, Muhammad jokingly said he would “riot” and convince UFC president Dana White to book him against “The Nigerian Nightmare.”

“He keeps ignoring my calls,” Muhammad said of White. “I keep trying to call him, I keep texting him, he’s leaving me on read. Nah, I’m messing around. I didn’t see him. I didn’t know he was here. … Dana, we’re gonna riot [laughs].”

Moments after a big win in Las Vegas, the 33-year-old welterweight reiterated that his ultimate goals in the sport.

“Gold is the goal,” he said. “Beating a guy like ‘Wonderboy’ is not my goal. My goal is to be the world champion in the UFC, and that’s what I’m going to achieve.”