Jorge Masvidal gives credit to both Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad for stepping up at UFC 288.
Burns — who defeated Masvidal in the final fight of his career at UFC 287 in April — and Muhammad meet in a five-round co-main event Saturday in Newark, N.J. Masvidal, who is promoting Friday’s Gamebred Bareknuckle card in Sunrise, Fla., gave his reaction to the high-stakes 170-pound matchup.
“I love it, that’s the competitive spirit, that’s the fighter spirit that’s always what’s kept MMA going, and other sports maybe not rising to the top [because] our guys are eager to compete and fight against each other and that’s how it should be,” Masvidal told MMA Fighting.
“Obviously Gilbert’s not waiting for nobody, he just had the biggest point of his life and he’s getting right back out there to prove and cement that, ‘Hey, I should be competing for this title.’ So I love the mentality and the spirit behind it.”
Burns turns around less than a month after his unanimous decision win over Masvidal, while Muhammad takes the fight on a little over two weeks’ notice in hopes of solidifying himself as the next guy in the welterweight division to challenge for a world title.
Asked for a prediction for the bout, “Gamebred” expects a close, competitive contest, but ultimately leans towards his recent dance partner.
“I think the more they grapple, it’ll lean, eventually, towards Belal Muhammad,” Masvidal said. “I think he’s more cardio based, a little bit more gifted in the cardio and he has better cardio, especially in the grappling department.
“But overall in the striking and the exchanges, I think Gilbert is going to have the power and he’s going to have more variety with the strikes. I see this being a very good fight though because I think Belal has better footwork than Gilbert. Is he necessarily gonna go for takedowns? I don’t know because Gilbert’s also no slouch off of his back. So it’s an interesting fight to see. I can see him going both ways, but I’m leaning towards Gilbert for this one.”
UFC President Dana White has been steadfast since UFC 286 in March that current champion Leon Edwards will defend his title against Colby Covington later this year — an idea that Edwards has been vocally against. Masvidal, who has a long history with Covington, seems to feel that Covington won’t end up getting the shot, especially with this UFC 288 matchup between Burns and Muhammad in play.
“Colby’s a b***, he ain’t getting s***, bro,” Masvidal said. “The only thing he’s getting is this ass-whooping, bro. That guy ain’t getting s***, bro.”