Belal Muhammad Steps in as Backup for UFC 296 Main Event, Eager for Title Shot

Belal Muhammad, riding a 10-fight unbeaten streak, is leaving no stone unturned in his pursuit of a title shot in the welterweight division. In a surprising move, Muhammad will serve as the backup for the upcoming UFC 296 main event, featuring Leon Edwards defending the welterweight title against Colby Covington.

Sources close to the situation confirmed Muhammad’s backup role, showcasing his determination to be ready for any opportunity that arises in the title fight.

After a dominant win over Gilbert Burns in May, Muhammad was promised the No. 1 contender status in the division. However, Covington had already secured the next title shot at welterweight, creating a complex situation in the highly competitive division.

Despite the UFC scheduling Edwards vs. Covington in December, Muhammad has patiently awaited his chance. Now, as the backup for UFC 296, he hopes to position himself for a title fight with the winner in 2024.

Edwards, addressing Muhammad as a potential contender, expressed his willingness to face him again, citing their previous encounter that ended in a no contest due to an accidental eye poke. Edwards stated, “That’s easy work. That’s easy money. If he is the guy next, he’s the guy. But does anyone want to see that? Probably not, but if he’s the guy, then I’ll happily silence him.”

In a similar capacity, former UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno will serve as the backup for the co-main event, where Alexandre Pantoja defends his title against Brandon Royval.