MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 288, a five-round welterweight bout between Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad. The event takes place on Saturday, May 6 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Gilbert Burns (-130)
Burns (22-5) is the No. 5 ranked welterweight in the UFC. The 36-year-old Brazilian is 15-5 overall in the UFC and he is one of the best fighters in his weight class. Burns has fought and defeated many of the best fighters at 170lbs including Jorge Masvidal, Tyron Woodley, and Neil Magny. He has elite submission skills and his striking is also good as well. Plus, you know he has heart. If he can get past Muhammad in this fight, then Burns could find himself back in the title picture again.
Belal Muhammad (+110)
Muhammad (22-3, 1 NC) is the No. 4 ranked welterweight in the UFC. The 34-year-old American has a 13-3, 1 NC record in the UFC, with notable wins over Vicente Luque, Stephen Thompson, and Sean Brady. Muhammad came into the UFC as mostly a wrestler, and he’s maintained those skills throughout his UFC run. But he has also evolved as a striker, turning himself into one of the best welterweights in the UFC. He has been on a roll lately and he wants a title shot in the UFC welterweight division. Well, the opportunity is here for him to claim one with a big win over Burns.
Fight Breakdown: This should be an incredible fight between two of the best welterweights in the world. Muhammad has been on a roll lately while Burns has proven time and time again that he’s one of the best at 170lbs in the UFC. The fact this fight is being taken by both guys on short notice is interesting, so make sure to pay attention to the weigh-ins to make sure both guys show up under the limit. The fight is also scheduled for five rounds, but I don’t think it will go the distance. Although both fighters are grapplers by trade, I see the grappling of each fighter canceling each other out. I see this fight primarily taking place on the feet, and I see both men landing some big shows. But I have to go with Muhammad. I was beyond impressed by his improved boxing against Sean Brady in his last fight, and if that version of Muhammad shows up here, I see him finishing Burns via TKO.
Prediction: Belal Muhammad via TKO