Belal Muhammad is leaving no stone unturned in preparation for his eventual title fight with UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards. “Remember The Name” recently reshared photos of him and UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev alleging that he will be heading to Dagestan to train for his title fight.
Belal Muhammad & Islam Makhachev, via @Sa_Gwang on Twitter
Muhammad confirmed the news during his January 4 appearance on the ‘Anik & Florian‘ Podcast:
“Yeah, for sure, I’m definitely working on stuff right now [with Dagestan],” Muhammad remarked. “Visa and stuff to go down there and train with the guys… any chance I get to work with them — it’s another level. So especially for this title fight, talking with him [Khabib], talking with the guys that are there they’re like ‘Come down, get some work in.’ …I plan on getting at least 4-5 weeks down there early.”
Dagestan is the home country of Islam Makhachev and former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The training team Muhammad will join is most likely Makhachev’s ‘Fightspirit‘ team, or even Nurmagomedov’s ‘Club Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s School‘, both of which are home to a plethora of Russian talent.
It’s safe to say that the Dagestan style of training should lend itself well to Muhammad’s type of fighting. Muhammad uses intense pressure and cardio, underlined by a solid wrestling base – he opts to smother his opponents on the ground and stifle their movement instead of hunting submissions. Muhammad isn’t known as a finisher in the UFC, but his style is brutally effective and even reminiscent of Nurmagomedov’s style.
Dagestani-style fighters value position over submission, using a grappling-heavy game plan to completely nullify their opponents and deny them the space to use their advantages. Grapplers are held tight and strikers are smothered. It is a style pioneered by fighters like “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov and it still hasn’t been countered or figured out in contemporary MMA.
For Edwards, this could be the encouragement he needs to put on a great performance when the time comes. Many fans and pundits were underwhelmed with “Rocky’s” low-tempo handling of Colby Covington at UFC 296, and the news of his next opponent training with MMA GOATs might just be the push he needs.
When Would Belal Muhammad Fight Leon Edwards?
As for a timeframe, champion Edwards has outlined UFC 300 as the choice of venue for his next title shot, though he didn’t mention who against:
“I will defend my belt in April at UFC 300…” Edwards said at Villa Park on December 30. “Then hopefully in the Summertime get a fight back home in Birmingham. I’m in talks with the UFC, so hopefully we can get it done.“
Undefeated welterweight phenom Shavkat Rakhmonov was also considered for the bout, according to journalist Ariel Helwani. Though, as it stands right now, Muhammad is an undeniable force in the welterweight division.
Stick with MMA Knockout for more daily coverage of the UFC and MMA
Mathew is a UK-based combat sports journalist. He currently works for MMA Knockout, part of the Sports Illustrated FanNation network. The Fight Fanatic is Mathew’s one-man operation. His past bylines include Heavy on UFC, Sportskeeda, and MMA UK.
Contact Mathew via Twitter or through [email protected]