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UFC 288 results: Belal Muhammad wins lopsided decision over Gilbert Burns in co-main event

UFC 288: Muhammad v Burns Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Belal Muhammad put himself into position to fight for the welterweight title after a lopsided victory to beat Gilbert Burns in the UFC 288 co-main event.

Despite accepting the challenge on two weeks’ notice just after Ramadan concluded, Muhammad looked like he had been training for 25 minutes because he ratcheted up the pressure round after round while battering Burns on the feet. From quick combinations with his hands to a series of devastating body kicks, Muhammad was surgical throughout all five rounds to win a unanimous decision.

The scorecards read 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46 as Muhammad extended his undefeated streak to 10 fights in a row.

“You give me eight weeks, I’m going to beat Jon Jones. You give me three weeks, I can beat any welterweight in the world,” Muhammad said. “For me, it’s God’s plan. With God, I just put my trust in him. He’s always a gamer. We saw in the Khamzat [Chimaev] fight, when he gets hurt, he’s even more dangerous.”

While it wasn’t an ideal situation to take the fight, Muhammad was still nearly flawless with his execution to beat a highly touted opponent like Burns.

From the first minute until the very last, Muhammad was switching stances to keep Burns guessing while throwing a series of straight lefts down the middle. Burns eventually came back at him with a powerful right had as he looked to turn the momentum in his favor.

That’s when Muhammad tagged Burns with several nasty body kicks that forced the one-time title challenger to lower his hand to defend his midsection. That led to Muhammad snapping off a powerful punch that wobbled Burns and put him on rubber legs for a moment.

While Burns recovered well, Muhammad continued to focus on more of those body kicks to then set up his strikes to the head, which continued to pay dividends. Burns eventually found a home for a big overhand right that finally backed Muhammad off but it was only a brief reprieve as he was soon defending continued aggression on the feet.

With both fighters taking the bout on extremely short notice, the pace slowed at times but Muhammad was moving forward with slick combinations in his boxing and then blasting Burns with another rib-shaking body shot.

After the third round ended, Burns returned to his corner with a dejected look on his face as he told his head coach Henri Hooft that something was wrong with his left hand that was preventing him from throwing it effectively. Even with two hands Burns would have a tough time but he was seriously struggling to deal with the pace and pressure coming from Muhammad.

Again and again, Muhammad was punishing Burns with his left kick, digging to the body and then going back up top to the head. Muhammad was also starting to target the compromised left arm on Burns as he began throwing more right kicks to double up with the damage he had already been doing on the other side throughout the fight.

Despite a lopsided performance, Muhammad refused to take his foot off the gas during the final five minutes as he kept coming after Burns with everything in his arsenal. Muhammad was setting up his strikes and just peppering away at Burns until the final horn sounded.

It may not have been the highlight reel finish anyone wanted, Muhammad still outclassed a legitimate threat in Burns to cement his spot at the top of the division as he now awaits the winner of a future fight between welterweight champion Leon Edwards and Colby Covington.

“Leon and Colby,” Muhammad shouted, “I’m coming for both you guys.”

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