Belal Muhammad shows his superiority with a short-notice victory over Gilbert Burns

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - MAY 06: Belal Muhammad (green trunks) fights against Gilbert Burns of Brazil (yellow trunks) during their welterweight bout at UFC 288 at Prudential Center on May 06, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. Xianonan won with a first round TKO. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Belal Muhammad throws a big punch at Gilbert Burns at UFC 288 on Saturday at Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images).

Belal Muhammad isn’t a flashy or dynamic fighter, but he’s about as good as they come. In the co-main UFC 288 event at the Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey on Saturday, Muhammad proved this by dominating No. Gilbert Burns was beaten by a unanimous, one-sided decision.

The judges scored it twice as 49-46 for Muhammad and once at 50-45. Yahoo Sports gave Muhammad a 50-45 score.

Burns was pounded by Muhammad’s body kicks, who is known for his nearly impregnable defense against takedowns. Burns hurt his left shoulder in the first round on a failed attempt to takedown and was unable to use it for the rest of the match. Muhammad attacked the right side of Burns’ body frequently and by the championship rounds, Burns wasn’t using the right much either.

Muhammad put on a great performance, despite only 16 days notice. Burns wanted to fight so that he could build momentum for a shot at the welterweight championship. Burns was already 2-0 with wins over Neil Magny and Jorge Masvidal.

He challenged Muhammad to a fight, and he accepted, even though it was Ramadan. Muhammad’s decision to fight his Brazilian rival was clearly a good one.

Muhammad noticed Burns wasn’t using the left and that was one less problem he had to worry about.

“I could see him shaking it out a bit,” Muhammad said in the Octagon afterward. “He has an excellent left hook.”

When it wasn’t usable, it took away one of his biggest weapons. Burns’ biggest challenge was to wrestle Muhammad to the ground so he could use all of his jiu jitsu prowess to force a submission.

He lost the use of his left hand for the remainder of the fight after he suffered a shoulder injury in the first round.

Muhammad changed stances frequently, but was kicking mostly to the body in the southpaw stance. Burns was smashed on his right arm and also the body.

Burns was exhausted from his activity and Muhammad tore it apart.

Muhammad wanted to look good enough that he’d earn a welterweight title shot next. He probably didn’t do that, but he clearly proved he’s one of the elite fighters in the world and that is only a positive.

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