MMA fighting

Belal Muhammad repeatedly asked for Khamzat Chimaev fight, but UFC only offered Sean Brady

When Khamzat Chimaev was still just a prospect looking for a top opponent to face him, Belal Muhammad was more than happy to answer that call.

In fact, Muhammad continually asked for the chance to face Chimaev and thought he almost landed the match in March when the UFC hinted at a main event slot for the promotion’s return to London. Unfortunately for Muhammad, the fight never materialized, but he never gave up hope of ending the hype surrounding the undefeated Chechen.

After a convincing victory over Vicente Luque in April, Muhammad renewed his calls for a fight against Chimaev, but says he kept hearing excuses why the fight was not staged.

“I am sitting there as if Khamzat is not reserved. Why am I not fighting Khamzat? Muhammad said the The fighter against the writer. “It makes the most sense in the world because at the time we were the only two top five guys who didn’t fight Kamaru. [Usman] Again. You excite him. I called for combat from Khamzat before Luque. I wanted to fight Khamzat. Even before the ‘Wonderboy’ [Stephen Thompson] fight, I was like let me fight Khamzat and they kept pushing him away.

“I was like OK, I just beat No. 5 [ranked fighter] in the world, he has just beaten the world No. 3 with Gilbert [Burns], it makes the most sense. I thought it was going to happen. All the time I call him I hear he’s got visa issues, he’s not going to fight. Then you started hearing the rumors about him and Nate Diaz and how does that make sense?

Despite repeated calls to face Chimaev in his next fight, Muhammad just couldn’t convince the UFC to commit to the match and that’s when he started to hear the Sean Brady’s name instead.

With a perfect 15-0 record, Brady is considered one of the hottest prospects in the welterweight division, but doesn’t have the same kind of name or resume power as Chimaev.

Of course, when Brady got the call with an offer to potentially face Muhammad, he was more than happy to accept and that’s when a war of words started on social media.

“You see Sean Brady calling me on Twitter and I’m like I won’t pay any attention to this guy, but South Chicago comes out and you let me start responding to him,” Muhammad said. “We were supposed to fight before, so when he says stupid stuff like ‘you’re running away from me’ I’m like you didn’t pull out of the first fight?

“Then he has a losing manager over there who starts tweeting, and then you get the trashy people of Philadelphia commenting on my ‘you scared’ post. I feel like those guys are downright losers. I I’ll wait for Khamzat or Gilbert.

With Gilbert Burns coming off a loss in a barnburner with Chimaev in May, Muhammad preferred this matchup as the Brazilian is a former title challenger who still holds a place among the top welterweights in the UFC.

Before long, Muhammad started to see the writing on the wall about that fight not happening either, but he still held out hope that Chimaev would end up being his opponent.

“You see Gilbert and [Jorge] Masvidal talks about fighting,” Muhammad said. “Obviously if you’re Gilbert, Masvidal is a money fight and it’s a much easier fight than me, so it’s getting attention now, it’s getting boring, so me and Khamzat always make the most sense because they still hadn’t booked Diaz’s Nate Combat.

“Then my manager called me, ‘I want to take you to Abu Dhabi [at UFC 280], it will be huge for you’ and the last time I fought there was amazing. I always wanted to go back, especially once in a while they sold me to Abu Dhabi and I was like me and Khamzat there, it would be huge.

It was then that Muhammad was again told that Chimaev was unavailable.

“Khamzat is still in trouble, he’s not going to fight right now and all they have is Sean Brady,” Muhammad said. “It’s the only one they have at the moment. Obviously that’s the one the UFC is trying to push on me.

“He’s got hype in the MMA community, he’s 15-0. Fans don’t really know who he is but the MMA community does know who he is. He has the fighters hype. He’s a guy that the UFC thinks can be a champion, so if I go out there and go through him, I’m not afraid to fight him. If I think I can be a champion, I have to go through everyone. I thought I’ll take it, let’s go.

While beating Brady won’t earn him the same kind of accolades as picking up a win over Chimaev, Muhammad was just tired of waiting and didn’t want to sit around until 2023 just waiting for a fight.

As for Chimaev, he was eventually paired with Diaz. Muhammad saw the writing on the wall as soon as this fight was announced.

“The thing with Khamzat is that they wanted to guarantee Khamzat a win so they could then give him the chance to win the title,” Muhammad said. “Because if he fights me, I’m a tough matchup for him and they showed in Gilbert’s fight in the fourth or fifth round, he’s going to slow down against anyone.

“I think they wanted to make sure to secure him a win so we can definitely get that Usman fight, we can get some of the Diaz fans.”

Ultimately, Chimaev didn’t end up with the Diaz fight either after suffering a disastrous weight cut that ultimately ended the fight just 24 hours before the event. Chimaev finally sent Kevin Holland into a catchweight bout on short notice and has been pondering a potential move up to middleweight ever since.

If Chimaev stays at welterweight, Muhammad would still be interested in this fight, but right now he can only think about Brady and their match at UFC 280.

“I just want to focus on [Sean Brady] and let’s see how it goes with these other guys in the next few months,” Muhammad said. “But yeah, it’s going to be interesting what happens with this division.”