After the dramas of UFC 259, the Octagon returns to the Apex in Las Vegas where Leon Edwards (18-3) makes his heavily anticipated return as he collides with Belal Muhammad (18-3) in the main event of the evening.
Despite being on an 8-fight win streak, the English born product has lost a large chunk of momentum due to injuries and 4 opponent pull-outs during the pandemic which has led to a UFC absence dating back to July 2019.
Edwards’ last fight inside the Octagon was against the 7th ranked lightweight in the world and former UFC lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos. After a dominant 25 minutes, Edwards had his hand raised and cemented himself as a true contender in the welterweight division.
Over his 8-year UFC career, ‘Rocky’ Edwards has accumulated wins over fighters like Vincente Luque, Bryan Barberena, Gunnar Nelson and future UFC Hall of Famer, Donald Cerrone.
However, one loss that stands out like a sore thumb in his career is the one against the current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Although the fight took place in December 2015, Usman got the nod on the judges’ scorecards after a tough 15 minutes.
If Leon Edwards defeats Belal Muhammad, he could very well be handed a welterweight title shot and a rematch with Usman according to UFC president Dana White. In a recent interview with BT Sport, Dana stated:
“100 percent [he’s next],”
The man looking to ruin the welcome back party and project his name into welterweight title contention is the ever so dangerous Belal Muhammad.
Muhammad last made the walk and fought in the Octagon just under a month ago at UFC 258 on February 14th, 2020 where he fought an unranked fighter named Dhiego Lima.
Although the American fighter was unable to secure a finish, his utterly dominant performance impressed fight fans around the world and put the welterweight division on notice.
After joining the UFC roster in 2016 with a 9-0 record after impressing with Titan Fight Championships, he made his UFC debut on a short-notice replacement against Alan Jouban. Despite losing the fight, both men were awarded fight of the night honours for their performances.
As well as becoming a big fan favourite due to his bubbly personality, Muhammad has racked up wins over Lyman Good, Takashi Sato, Randy Brown and UFC veteran Tim Means.
When the two men clash on Saturday night in the 25-minute main event, I expect to see Leon Edwards take the centre of the octagon and feel out his opponent for the first 5 minutes due to his long layoff.
As Edwards has accumulated 6 knockouts in his professional career, he would rather keep this fight on the feet or in the clinch as he can cause Muhammad some serious issues which could result in a knockout.
Edwards’ path to victory.
Keep the fight standing or clinch.
Pick his opponent apart from the outside with a mixture of strikes.
I believe that Muhammad will come into this fight looking for an eye-catching victory which may make him force the pace and get into Edwards’ face. However, that could be his downfall due to an enormous lack of punch power. Throughout his UFC career, Muhammad is yet to score a single knockdown but has suffered six in total in three fights.
If either fighter decides to shoot for a takedown, the fight may become very fascinating as both men have excellent takedown defence (70% Edwards and 83% Muhammad)
Muhammad’s path to victory
Keep Edwards guessing.
Shoot for a takedown while changing levels throughout.
Although there are concerns due to Edwards’ inactivity, I believe that he will knock Muhammad out inside the first 3 rounds, progress to a 9-fight win streak and be next in line for a UFC welterweight title shot.
Fight Prediction: Edwards via 2nd round KO/TKO