Dana White must have his tap shoes on because there has been a whole bunch of fight shuffling going on lately.

One day after it was announced that the main event for UFC’s August 29th Fight Night event between lightweights Arman Tsarukyan and Renato Moicano was being scrapped due to injury, it was announced that an even bigger lightweight fight was being pulled from the following weekend’s UFC 288, where Charles Oliveira was to clash with Beneil Dariush to determine who would likely be UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev’s next challenger.

The good news out of all that? While the UFC “solved” the August 29th show by plucking the co-main event of this weekend’s Pavlovich vs. Blaydes card and making it the new headliner (it’s okay, everyone is too hyped for Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia to notice), their fix for UFC 288 is a match made in heaven.

Or made on Twitter. Seems like there’s a lot going on there these days.

Burns demanded Dana White give him a title shot

Gilbert Burns, fresh off a decisive win over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 287 earlier this month, made it known he wanted a shot at the welterweight title. He’s well aware that Leon Edwards’ next defense of the UFC Welterweight Championship is going to come against Colby Covington. Masvidal’s loss and subsequent retirement all but guaranteed that.

At the 287 post fight press conference, Gilbert, being as smart and reasonable as he appears to be when he’s not making greasing allegations, didn’t lobby to simply wait in line. Instead, he asked to be the backup for the Edwards-Covington fight, noting that if he didn’t get a future title shot he’d be asking for his walking papers. Dana White was onboard with the request.

That all seemed well and good until the Oliveira-Dariush fight fell out and Gilbert decided to go online to push for that co-main event slot—even going so far as to call out Dustin Poirier, who has never fought at welterweight before.

Luckily for “Durinho,” he didn’t have to look that far afield. Instead he found his huckleberry in Belal Muhammad.

That’s right, after the #4 ranked welterweight (one rank ahead of Gilbert) had his own piece to say about Colby skipping to the front of the line, and after calling out anyone and everyone to get a fight that would secure his spot, he finally got the opportunity he was looking for.

Someone finally remembered the name.

Now, not only do Mohammad and Burns have the chance to clash on a major stage and prove once and for all who the better fighter is, they get to do it with zero guarantee that the winner will be rewarded with anything, much less a chance at UFC gold.

Will Burns/Muhammad save UFC 288?

First off, is adding Muhammad vs. Burns to next month’s PPV really “saving” that event? It seems pretty unlikely. 

It’s an event headlined by Aljamain Sterling defending the UFC Bantamweight Championship against Henry Cejudo. It’s a very controversial booking between two fighters who have stirred up a whole lot of controversy over the last few years. While a strong card would certainly bolster the buyrate, the main event is a polarizing fight that fans either want to see or couldn’t care less about. It’s doubtful the addition of a potential title eliminator is going to change anyone’s mind about whether or not they should order the whole card.

Second, how good do we expect the fight to be? UFC 288 is on May 6, which means Gilbert will be cutting weight twice in less than a month. While Belal hasn’t fought since October and has been itching to compete again, Ramadan literally just ended a couple days ago. That means he’s going to get back into camp to fight in two weeks after fasting for the last month?

And these guys agreed to go 5 rounds?

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About the author
Evan Zivin
Evan Zivin

Evan Zivin is a writer, having joined Bloody Elbow in 2023. He's been providing his unique takes on the sport of MMA since 2013, previously working as a featured columnist for 411Mania. Evan has followed MMA and professional wrestling for most of his life. His joy is in finding the stories and characters within all combat sports and presenting them in a serious yet light-hearted way.

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