A Twitter war featuring Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad has recently stirred up the UFC welterweight division. It seems that two top contenders in the division could be talking themselves into facing each other, should the promotion allow them and if they can agree to each other’s terms, as well.
Gilbert Burns called out Belal Muhammad on Twitter
Back in January of this year, Gilbert Burns tweeted that he was ready to face anyone, leading to Belal Muhammad to tweet the same shortly after. Though nothing came of it at the time, since ‘Durinho’ went on to fight and beat Jorge Masvidal, it looks like the Brazilian still wants that match.
Now, Burns has tweeted a picture of both posts to remind Muhammad that he would welcome the pairing at UFC 288. The May 6 card is in need of a co-main event after losing its original one, between former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush due to ‘Do Bronx’ getting injured.
Gilbert Burns also called out Dustin Poirier
However, having not fought since October 2022, Muhammad proposed a catchweight match, claiming he cannot get on weight in only two weeks. The news did not seem sit well with Burns, who went on to call out former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier for a fight on the same card. Though the ‘Diamond’ explained he was not in shape at the moment, he hinted that he could the match for the right price.
The turn of events resulted in Belal amping up the trash talk, who pointed out that not only he has not fought since last year, but is also fasting for Ramadan, which would hinder his preparation for a fight on such short-notice.
Durinho’s answer to the provocation was a simple one. The Brazilian claimed to still be willing to face Muhammad, as long as Belal made weight. Furthermore, the asked Belal not to take the Poirier callout personally, since Gilbert claims he is only trying to find an opponent for UFC 288 in time.
Gilbert Burns was unhappy with the rankings
It is worth noting that he back and forth between Muhammad and Burns has been going on since January, when a rankings update showed that Belal bumped Durinho down a spot. In an interview with MMA Fighting, the Brazilian showed his discontent about the news, saying it made no sense.
“How the heck Belal Muhammad beats Sean Brady, I have nothing to do with that, and he passes me in the rankings?,” said Burns at UFC 283 media day (video provided by MMA Fighting). “I got it. Okay, he got a couple of wins, but he never beat me. Why [did] he take my place? And he declined the fight when they offered we fight each other here in Rio. ‘Oh no.’ Why no? Because he got my place, but I think if he was still No. 5, he would say, ‘Yes.’
“That’s one thing I don’t like,” continued Burns. “It’s out of my control, but that’s a little frustrating to me. How the f—k did this guy pass me in the rankings? He never beat me and he doesn’t want to fight me. Why?”
Gilbert Burns has already won twice in 2023
Currently, Burns (22-5) rides a two-fight winning streak, having defeated both Jorge Masvidal and Neil Magny this year, respectively in April and January. Before the victories, the 36-year-old dropped a hard-fought unanimous decision to hot prospect Khamzat Chimaev, in April 2022.
Meanwhile, Muhammad (22-3-1 NC) is on a nine-fight undefeated streak, with a No Contest against Leon Edwards in the middle. During this time, the 34-year-old defeated notable names in the welterweight division, such as Vicente Luque, Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia. In his last outing, Remember the Name scored a TKO victory over Sean Brady in October 2022. His last loss happened in January 2019, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Geoff Neal.
UFC 288 is scheduled to take place on May 6, in Newark, New Jersey. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a bantamweight title fight between current champion Aljamain Sterling and former double title-holder Henry Cejudo. At the moment, a women’s strawweight match between former champion Jessica Andrade and contender Yan Xiaonan is expected to co-headline the event.
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