Belal Muhammad, the no. 4 welterweight title contender, fought the 5th ranked fighter Gilbert Burns in the UFC 288 co-main event. Muhammad was on a 9-fight unbeaten streak, the second longest in the 170 lbs division. Burns, on the other hand, was coming off two solid wins over Neal Magny and Jorge Masvidal. Both Belal and Jorge belong on the list of elite welterweight fighters. So who got the job done? Let’s find out.
Burns was clearly the fan favorite as the spectators chanted his name right at the beginning of the contest. It took the fighters more than 30 seconds into round 1 to open up and land a strike. They traded some hard leg kicks to kick off the action. Belal seemed to be having success with kicks as he continued to land them on will. However, Burns caught one such kick and landed a flash takedown.
However, Muhammad got up without much fuss. The Chicago native then proceeded to rock Burns a couple of times with some stiff kicks and punches. Belal ended the first round on top as he was clearly the better fighter. “Remember The Name” picked things up where he left off as Belal landed some stiff kicks at the beginning of round 2. Although Burns tried to blitz forward and close the gap, Muhammad’s movement was too elusive.
Burns is extremely powerful and fast inside the Octagon. However, as the commentary team pointed out during the broadcast, Gilbert Burns seemed flat and there were speculations if he had injured his right hand or not. Even in round 3, Muhammad did not take his foot off the gas. He continuously walked Burns down and landed some great high kicks.
Belal Muhammad beats an injured Gilbert Burns at UFC 288
While the kicks did not catch Burns’ head, they seemed to have an adverse effect on his left hand as well. During the break after round 3, Gilbert revealed that he “can not throw the left hand for nothing.” On top of that, he also seemed confused about which round it was and asked his coach Henri Hooft whether it was only round 2 or not. So it was apparent that Burns was severely injured and perhaps concussed as well.
Gilbert Burns told his corner he can’t throw the left hand… pic.twitter.com/4ChabLrgOh— FTB VIDS (@anotherFTBacct) May 7, 2023
Belal sensed that his opponent was wounded and kept on landing the body kicks which brought him so much success. However, Burns refused to go down and fired back with some kicks of his own as well. While Durinho landed some kicks, he seldom fired his right hand. But the 36-year-old just could not use his left hand at all.
With 4 rounds in the bag, it was hard to score any of them in favor of Burns. Hence, Gilbert needed to finish the fight in order to secure an unlikely finish. But Muhammad was just too good on the night. From his swift counter punches to hard body kicks Belal Muhammad seemed like a rejuvenated fighter. However, Burns showed great heart and even started to push the pace late in round 5. But it was too little too late.
Although it became just a mere formality, Belal got the win via unanimous decision. Two judges scored it 49-46 and one judge gave all the rounds to Belal and had it 50-45. During his post-fight interview, Bela added that he noticed Burns had an injured left shoulder and he took advantage of it. He then proceeded to call out both Leon Edwards and Colby Covington.
However, interestingly, Joe Rogan did not interview Gilbert Burns after the fight. Rogan previously added that he would not interview fighters who suffered concussions during a fight. Hence, it gives more validity to the speculation of Burns suffering a concussion during the UFC 288 contest. What are your thoughts on the fight? Let us know in the comments down below.