Belal Muhammad vows to ‘do everyone a favor’ and dethrone ‘coward’ Leon Edwards at UFC 304

Belal Muhammad thinks the UFC, the fans and the MMA pundits are sick of Leon Edwards as welterweight champion, and he plans to take the belt away from him at UFC 304.

Muhammad (23-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) will finally get his long-awaited shot at gold when he challenges Edwards (21-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) in the main event of the July 27 card, which takes place at Co-op Live in Manchester, England (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+).

It’s been an agonizing wait for Muhammad, who will have been inactive for 14 months since he added to his 10-fight unbeaten streak with a unanimous decision victory over Gilbert Burns in a title eliminator bout at UFC 288 in May 2023. The wait has only motivated Muhammad, though.

“It was definitely frustrating the whole waiting, because I love to fight,” Muhammad told MMA Junkie. “I love to be active. I’m always training. I’m always in the gym, so it was hard. But that’s the guy Leon is. He’s not an active champion. He’s very hard to deal with. Even with that Colby (Covington) fight, it took forever for them to book it. For this fight, it took forever to book it. I think it’s more so because this guy’s training to hold onto that belt as long as possible and act like he’s a longstanding champion and looks at it like, ‘Oh, I’ve been a champion for 300 days’ like it means something.

“In the end, your resume is what means something. When you look at the guys like Kamaru (Usman), who was an active champion, those are the champions you respect – guys like (Israel) Adesanya and (Alexander) Volkanovski, who looked up the next challenger right away. After their fight, they had their next fight booked or set, and they always wanted to fight the next best guy. But Leon, he’s a coward. His team, they’re all afraid and they’re all afraid because they know he’s not that good and they know I’m a terrible matchup for them and they’re trying to delay this as long as possible.”

Muhammad, 35, said he’s eager to rid Edwards of his place as champion and take the crown, and even though he has his credits, he thinks he will be a far more compelling titleholder.

“Nobody hears about Leon – Leon doesn’t talk,” Muhammad said. “He comes on a podcast once every three months and he whispers. Nobody can understand what he’s saying. He looks stupid – doesn’t have confidence. He’s awkward. He’s weird. And I think I’m going to do everyone a favor on July 27: After I beat him, we’re going to be done. We don’t have to hear about him no more. The UFC doesn’t have to promote him no more because he’s not going to be the champion, so then he’ll be forced to do stuff himself.”

The wait to receive his title shot isn’t the only thing that’s generated animosity toward Edwards from Muhammad. Their history plays a big role in the situation, as well.

Edwards and Muhammad previously fought in the main event of UFC Fight Night 187 in March 2021. The bout ended in a no contest in the second round after Edwards poked Muhammad in the eye and he could not continue. Muhammad has been pushing for the rematch ever since, and his disdain toward “Rocky” has only grown over the past three-plus years.

“I literally hate his guts,” Muhammad said. “He’s making me hate people with a London accent. People with that British accent piss me off. Anytime I hear him, anytime I see him, it just makes me angry, because honestly, this delay, the talking on their end, the narrative they’re trying to push with even his coaches and his brother trying to call for other people – they were literally calling for Gilbert Burns after I beat Gilbert Burns. Their whole team just pisses me off.

“They all have low IQ. They’re not very smart. They’re the people that give fighters a bad name because people look at fighters and think we’re dumb. No, there’s fighters that are educated. I have a degree. There’s some guys out there that aren’t that dumb, but when you hear Leon talk, his coaches talk, his team talk, you’re like, ‘Man, all these fighters are dumb as rocks.’ That’s what his whole team is. They’re dumb as rocks. I can’t wait to end them and their team. They’re not going to have nobody else after this once I walk through them.”

Muhammad is expecting a one-sided contest when he does finally step into the cage with Edwards at UFC 304. He has to travel into his opponent’s home country and fight in the middle of the night local time to complete his mission, but said nothing is going to stop him from getting the job done.

“Honestly I think I’m going to rock him really early, and then I’m going to take him down,” Muhammad said. “I could finish him with a TKO, but I’m just going to let him back up. Then I’m going to look to his coach and I’m going to tell his coach, ‘Yo, give him some motivational words. Tell him to man up. Hurry up.’ And his coach is going to look at me like, ‘I don’t know what to tell him.’ Then I’m just going to hit him again and say, ‘Say something to him.’ Then I’m going to hit him again. Then I’m going to get him in a rear-naked choke, probably in the first round, and then right before he’s about to tap, I’m going to let him go. Then I’m going to let him breathe a little bit, go to his corner, hope his coach gives him some better advice.

“Second round, I’m going to take him down again. I’m going to start hitting him, elbowing him. This time, I’m going to look to his brother like, ‘Bro, you’re not going to come in for your brother? You’re not going to help your brother out?’ Then he’s going to look at me, he’s going to curse at me, he’s going to swear at me. I’m just going to be smiling. Then I’m going to look at Leon and be like, ‘All right, I’m done with you.’ Then I’m going to finish him in the second round. You can call me ‘Mystic Muhammad.'”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 304.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie