Belal Muhammad apparently wanted a middleweight bout against Gilbert Burns at UFC 288. That’s according to “Durinho,” who explained this part of their pre-fight negotiations in a recent interview with Submission Radio.
Belal Muhammad asked for a 185-pound contest
According to Burns, Belal Muhammad specifically asked for a 185-pound bout for their recently-finalized co-headliner. And he was having none of it.
“He didn’t even ask for 175, he ask for 185,” Burns said of Muhammad. “And like I said, I changed a lot of habits. I used to go up to 200, 205 after camp. Now I’m staying 187, 188 walking around. And this guy now wants to go middleweight? Like, I get it, you’re Muslim, you do your Ramadan, but at the same time, I don’t care.
“I’m not Muslim. You do whatever you want. I respect it. It’s not that I’m talking shit. You do whatever you have to do. But [don’t] ask for an excuse, ‘Oh, let me’. No. I don’t care. He was the first one that threw it out, ‘oh, May 6th let’s fight’.
“Okay, let’s fight. ‘Oh, but I need’, No. I’m not giving no favor to you. I’m not your friend.”
Burns went on to point out how some of his training partners of the same faith as Belal would go about their training, specifically mentioning former interim title contender Kevin Lee. He then went on to give Muhammad a lecture about the proper pre-fight mindset.
“Look, if you really want to become a champion, if you really want the number one spot, just fight anyone, but show up and make weight. Like, in any sport, boxing, kickboxing, MMA, jiu jitsu, grappling, wrestling, first we make weight, and then we fight.
“Don’t ask for help. ‘Oh, can you give me a pass?’ No, I don’t give you anything. I don’t care.”
Belal Muhammad facing a drastic weight cut ahead of UFC 288
According to ESPN, Muhammad is facing a drastic weight cut with just nine days out. Per the report, he still has 19 pounds to get rid of. Belal, however, isn’t worried.
“I’ve got a couple experiences [with drastic weight cuts]. To me, it’s not about the weight. It’s about getting to fight night and throwing down.”
Gilbert Burns vs. Belal Muhammad will be a five-round co-main event, which the latter says was influenced by a notable training partner.
“I actually talked to Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he said, ‘Brother, I think you should do five rounds. I was like, ‘That’s a good thought.’
“My team knows what I’m capable of. I’m a guy who gets stronger as rounds get deeper. When most guys start breaking and getting tired, that’s what gives me more fuel and more energy.”
UFC 288 happens on May 6 in Newark, NJ. Headlining the event is Aljamain Sterling, who will defend the undisputed bantamweight title against the returning ex-double champ Henry Cejudo.
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