When good things come to those who wait both We can be very happy about the world championships, who will headline the UFC Fight Night on Saturday.
Often overlooked this weekend Leon Edwards (18-3) will take over what is often overshadowed Belal Muhammad (also 18-3) at the main event at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. Together, Edwards and Muhammad have a 19-5 record in the UFC, but they both struggled to win the division spotlight.
In an ironic twist, one or both of them could break out by fighting each other.
Edwards has been close to his first title shot in years – his streak of eight fights is the second longest in the division after only 13 wins in a row Kamaru Usman – and UFC President Dana White has hinted that Edwards could fight for the title next with a win.
And for Muhammad, Saturday is his first main event in the UFC, where he has only been fighting since mid-2016. The attraction of this match-up and the opportunity for the main event was so great for Muhammad that he accepted the fight just five days after his defeat Dhiego Lima at UFC 257 on February 13th – this is the fastest turnaround of his career.
The UFC welterweight division is in a unique time where the top names have spent a lot of time filling positions lately. Usman calls Jorge Masvidal (presumably because of his name), although he only convincingly defeated Masvidal last July. Former interim champion Colby Covington Only fought once in 2020 and currently has not booked anything.
Originally, Edwards was slated to be about to break out in 2020 Khamzat Chimaev In this main event, however, Chimaev was forced to withdraw due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19. Edwards responded to that message by offering to fight everyone in the weight class and saying he just had to compete.
It will be interesting to see how things play out at 170 pounds as different fighters employ different strategies. While the biggest names are obviously out to be selective about who to fight against, on Saturday there will be two world championships that have decided to tackle the problem by fighting just about everyone.
By the numbers
2.05: Strikes absorbed by Edwards per minute in the UFC that bind him Neil Magny for the second smallest among active world champions (back Ramazan Emeev1.99). Edwards has not been incapacitated in his last four fights.
129: Muhammad landed significant strikes in his last fight, a victory Dhiego Lima on February 13th. It was a UFC career high for Muhammad.
28: Days on the night of the fight since Muhammad’s victory over Lima. Muhammad is the eighth fighter in the modern era of the UFC to attend a major event after a turnaround of 28 days or less. The previous seven who did this went 2-3-2 on their returns.
602: Days it will have been fight night since Edwards last participated in a win Rafael dos Anjos on July 20, 2019.
12: Combined winning streak of the two fighters of the main event. Edwards has won eight in a row, Muhammad four.
Sources: ESPN Stats & Information and UFC Stats
Five against five
Leon Edwards’ recent results
Victory: Rafael dos Anjos (UD, July 20, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Victory: Gunnar Nelson (SD, March 16, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Victory: Donald Cerrone (UD, June 23, 2018)
Victory: Peter Sobotta (TKO3, March 17, 2018)
Victory: Bryan Barberena (UD, September 2, 2017)
Belal Mohammed’s recent results
Victory: Dhiego Lima (UD, February 13, 2021; watch on ESPN +)
Victory: Lyman Good (UD, June 20, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Victory: Takashi Sato (Sub3, September 7, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Victory: Curtis Millender (UD, April 13, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Loss: Geoff Neal (UD, January 19, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
And the winner is …
“What a fun fight for these two guys,” Erick Nicksick, trainer at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, told ESPN. “Edwards is that consistent guy. He’s efficient. I feel like he’s just always on your face and always putting that constant pressure on. … Belal Muhammad gets better with every fight you see him. He is a problem. You see a man who keeps winning these highly competitive decisions. Can he keep the same pace for five rounds? “
Check out how Nicksick and other experts do break down the main event.
How to watch the fights
Watch the fighting on ESPN +. If you don’t have ESPN +, Get it here.
There are also FightCenter, Here you can find live updates for every UFC card.
Saturday’s battle card
ESPN +, 8 p.m. ET
Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad | Welterweight
Mischa Cirkunov vs. Ryan Spann | Light heavyweight
Dan Ige vs. Gavin Tucker | Men’s featherweight
Jonathan Martinez vs. Davey Grant | Men bantamweight
Manel cape vs. Matheus Nicolau | Flyweight of the men
Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart | medium weight
ESPN +, 5:00 p.m. ET
Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder | Straw weight
Charles Jourdain vs. Marcelo Rojo | Men’s featherweight
Rani Yahya vs. Ray Rodriguez | Men bantamweight
Nasrat Haqparast vs. Rafa Garcia | Light
Cortney Casey vs. JJ Aldrich | Women’s flyweight
Gloria de Paula vs. Jinh Yu Frey | Straw weight
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Jason Witt | Welterweight
Three More Things to Know (from ESPN Stats & Information)
1. Mischa Cirkunovwho fights Ryan Spann In the co-main event, one does not seem to trust (and with caution) the MMA judges. Since Cirkunov joined the UFC in 2015, each of his nine fights have ended with a break. The Latvian-born Canadian light heavyweight took the lead 6-3. Only five modern fighters started their UFC careers with 10 direct fights that end with an interruption (Luke Rockhold, Nikita Krylov, Gabriel Gonzaga, Andrei Arlovski and DaMarques Johnson).
3. Dan Ige returns to the Octagon for the first time since his winning streak with five fights Calvin Kattar in July. The 29-year-old Hawaiian meets Canadians Gavin Tucker. Ige has taken six wins since making his UFC debut in 2018 Alexander Volkanovski for most under featherweights.
ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this bout preview.