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UFC 288 results, highlights: Belal Muhammad outpoints Gilbert Burns to earn welterweight title shot

Despite being counted out at multiple turns, all Belal Muhammad does is win. And the red-hot welterweight appears to have secured a title shot following a short-notice victory on Saturday at UFC 288 in Newark, New Jersey.

Muhammad (23-3, 1 NC) switched stances throughout and relied on heavy kicks to the body to outpoint a compromised Gilbert Burns, who reached the finish of this non-title, five-round bout despite badly injuring his left arm in the second half of the fight. All three judges scored it for Muhammad by scores of 50-45 and 49-46 (twice).

The fight was signed on just three weeks’ notice to fill a key co-main event slot on the pay-per-view card. Not only was Burns (22-6) not fully recovered from a three-round decision win over Jorge Masvidal on April 8, but Muhammad accepted the fight while fasting in observance of Ramadan. 

“You know how I am,” Muhammad said. “You give me eight weeks, I’m going to beat Jon Jones. You give me three weeks, I’ll beat any welterweight in the world.

“It was God’s plans. God put me in that type of shape at that right time to take this fight.”

With the victory, Muhammad likely earned a shot at the winner of welterweight champion Leon Edwards’ defense against two-time title challenger Colby Covington, which is expected to take place this summer. The native of Chicago also extended his unbeaten streak to 10 fights in his first appearance since a dominant knockout of Sean Brady last October.

“Leon and Colby, I’m coming for both of you guys,” Muhammad said.

Burns, 36, saw his body betray him as the tense and technical fight reached the midway point. The native of Brazil remained a threat with his power shots through Round 4 until a botched takedown attempt saw him pop back up with a grimace on his face while holding his left arm. 

From that point forward, Burns stopped throwing with his left hand as his body language worsened. To his credit, the 34-year-old Muhammad kept his distance and steadily picked Burns apart with clean strikes.  

“I was starting to see [the injury],” Muhammad said. “I could see him shaking it out a little bit. He’s always a gamer so our whole gameplan was that if we hurt him, don’t crowd him because as he showed in the Khamzat [Chimaev] fight, he is still dangerous.”

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