Belal Muhammad is set to fight Gilbert Burns in the UFC 288 co-main event. The show was supposed to feature Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush in the co-headliner spot. However, Oliveira had to withdraw due to an injury which pushed the bout to UFC 289. As a result, UFC booked the fight between Burns and Muhammad on short notice.
Belal Muhammad has lost only one fight in his last 14 outings inside the Octagon. He lost to Geoff Neal in January 2019. Since then, he has defeated the likes of Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, and Sean Brady. Following his win over Brady under the tutelage of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Belal was in talks to fight Shavkat Rakhmonov. However, he did not back down from the opportunity to fight Gilbert Burns.
— UFC (@ufc) May 5, 2023
Gilbert Burns ranks 8th in the list of fastest turnaround for a UFC fighter. He retired Jorge Masvidal in the UFC 287 co-main event. But, just under a month, he is back to fight Belal Muhammad. He added that he would get the title shot if he beats Muhammad in the upcoming bout this Saturday. So which welterweight fighter will reign supreme? Let’s find out.
UFC 288: Belal Muhammad vs Gilbert Burns, Stats
|Stats||Belal Muhammad||Gilbert Burns|
|Height||1.8 m||1.78 m|
|Reach||182.9 cm||180.3 cm|
Muhammad vs Burn: Fight Breakdown
Gilbert Burns was the only fighter to give Kamaru Usman trouble during their title bout at UFC 258. He even came closer than anyone to defeating Khamzat Chimaev. Hence, Burns is not a fighter who can be taken lightly despite being 36 years of age. He currently holds an MMA record of 22-5 with 6 KO/TKOs and 9 submissions.
Belal Muhammad, on the other hand, has a pro record of 22-3. He has 1 submission win and 5 KO/TKO wins. While Muhammad is an amazing wrestler, who absolutely dominated Stephen Thompson, he is not much of a finisher. However, heading into a fight against a high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, grappling may not be his best ally. Burns will be more than happy to indulge Belal on the ground.
However, Durinho’s striking has also come a long way and he is more than capable of shutting anybody’s lights out. But Belal has shown signs of improvement in his striking game too. With Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner, Belal schooled Sean Brady on the feet. According to UFC Stats, “Remember The Name” lands 4.47 strikes per minute.
He has a striking accuracy of 42% and a defense rate of 58%. But wrestling is his bread and butter and he lands 2.19 takedowns per bout. In comparison, Burns lands 2.16 takedowns per bout as well. On top of that, Burns lands 3.38 strikes per minute, while absorbing 3.13 strikes in return. So it appears that Muhammad will be more active inside the Octagon.
However, only the activity itself is not enough to hand anybody the win. Burns is the stronger fighter and arguably has better skills. While Burns will have a slight size advantage, most of Burns’ opponents were bigger than him. It is an extremely well-matched contest between two fighters who have similar skills. But, Burns will be slightly favorite due to the advantage of fighting more elite fighters.