The fight between Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns will serve as the headline of the UFC 288 and a potential title eliminator that decides the next challenger in this division. Muhammad has been searching for an opportunity to attack the division’s top and enter the title talk. At the same time, Burns seeks another chance to win the title following his loss to Kamaru Usman. So we have all the resources to enjoy in one tough and nail-biting clash.
Belal Muhammad (+105) comes from Chicago, Illinois, and is of Palestinian origins. His current record is 22 wins and only three defeats, with one no-contest battle, which was against Leon Edwards back in 2021. That is the only fight he didn’t win over the past nine appearances in the octagon, but on the other side, he didn’t lose it as well.
After that bout, he posted four victories in a row, over some respectable names, like Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, Vicente Luque, and at last vs. Sean Brady, whom he knocked out. The previous three triumphs were via decision. Overall 16 of his 22 victories came after the decision.
Muhammad has excellent cardio, and since he is without a KO-punch power, his strategy is to pressure the rival and collect points on the scorecards constantly. He has a solid takedown defense but is not tested properly. Other than that, we can say that his movement inside the octagon is also at the highest possible level, which creates problems for his rivals, who get tired after a while.
Gilbert Burns (-125) had to go through hell to reach this status, and he is eager to make another step and grab the title. This will be his third battle since the start of the year, which is impressive and needs to be acknowledged.
He would defeat Neil Magny in four minutes in January, then beat Jorge Masvidal through three rounds less than a month ago. He wants to cement his position at the division’s top and, if possible, earn another title match. And according to all the information, the UFC will make that happen
Burns is a fantastic grappler, even though he hasn’t used that often recently. Apart from a submission against Magny, we haven’t seen him wrestle too much. The Brazilian posted 22 wins and five losses in his professional MMA career. Durinho’s finishes go like this – six via KO, nine via submission and seven by a decision.
Even though Edwards has some respectable names in his bio, that still didn’t convince the majority of the MMA community that he belongs in the elite echelon of the welterweight division. Against Edwards, the American was constantly inferior, and the eye poke was a blessing for him. Meanwhile, Durinho has more experience in cases like this one, and he looks more powerful than Muhammad. Also, if he drags Belal to the mat, the fight will be over quickly. The odds of Burns’ victory are solid, and for us, this is a no-brainer, even though some might think that would be too courageous and cocky.
Pick: Gilbert Burns wins -105
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.