Muhammad, of course, wants a shot at the welterweight title after going unbeaten in his past nine fights, and he urged Usman to step aside after the ex-champ’s head-kick knockout loss to Edwards at UFC 278.
“We’re talking numbers, we’re talking rankings...you want to make this a real sport,” said Muhammad on a recent Instagram live chat. “If you want to make this a real sport, there’s no rematches once you lose the Super Bowl. You lose the Super Bowl, you lost the Super Bowl, that’s it, you’re going to have to wait until next year. You don’t get a, ‘Ahh, man. That was a lucky pass.’
“Nah, you lost, you don’t get the rematch right away. You’ve got to go through a whole other season to try and get back there again. So, Usman, sit down a little bit, relax, heal up, [and] let me fight Leon Edwards.”
The UFC is targeting an immediate rematch between Usman and Edwards for March in the U.K., though a date and venue have yet to be announced. Usman, who was attempting his sixth title defense and had beaten Edwards previously by decision, was ahead on all scorecards before Edwards’ incredible comeback. Afterward, UFC President Dana White departed from his usual routine in welcoming a do-over.
Muhammad’s most recent win put him on the radar for a title shot. At UFC 280, he ended the unbeaten run of Sean Brady with a second-round stoppage. The performance earned him his third UFC performance bonus.
After an accidental eyepoke rendered Muhammad unable to continue in a March 2021 meeting with Edwards, the 34-year-old welterweight went back to the drawing board and picked up four straight wins, which arguably could be considered a season (or two) in MMA circles.
Not all MMA seasons are considered equal, however. Out-of-the-box stars like Khamzat Chimaev have walked a much shorter path to the title. Muhammad also shares a manager with Usman in Ali Abdelaziz, so he potentially faces a business obstacle to the belt.
From a merit standpoint, Muhammad believes his time is now.