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Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad is one of the most underrated main events we’ve seen in a while as it features two of the sport’s most overlooked fighters. Edwards, on an eight-fight winning streak that dates back to 2016, looks to cement himself as a title contender against a the Chicago-born Muhammad, who enters on a four-fight winning streak of his own.
With major welterweight implications on the line, one will surge forward in the discussion. Who wins? Let’s find out.
Edwards is probably the most overlooked and underrated fighter in all of the UFC. With a record of 18-3, the southpaw from England has six wins by KO and three by submission. In his three losses, none came by virtue of him being finished and one was DQ. His last loss was against the current champ Kamaru Usman in 2015 by way of decision.
Since that time, he has strung together eight straight wins against some very reputable opposition. Edwards seems to have it all: Good striking, underrated wrestling and grappling, good cage IQ, big for the division, and a good tank to match. The one weakness I do see in his game is his inability to elude the takedowns if his opponent really commits to them. However, holding him there is another story. Edwards has a good ability to escape positions.
Coming in with a two-inch reach advantage and a southpaw stance, Edwards should be the bigger fighter in there on fight night, and given his well rounded ability in the cage, the size only adds a clear bonus. He will take on another fighter starving for attention by the masses in Belal “Remember The Name” Muhammad. Another with a very unappreciated and well rounded game.
Edwards will be matched up against another fighter starving for recognition in Muhammad, who seems just about done flying under the radar. Muhammad comes to us with a record of 18-3 with four KOs and one submission. He does much of his work with pace and pressure, pulling his opponents deep to see if they can keep pace with him.
With 13 fights won by decision, Muhammad has good conditioning and can switch looks in a fight quickly. He will stand and trade and in the blink of an eye he will commit fully to a takedown and grind it out.
After his decision loss to Geoff Neal, Muhammad has won four straight against some impressive names, but it’s fair to say that Edwards has fought the more seasoned competition. That said, Muhammad fights at a pace that many people just can’t hang with. In his three losses, he has only been finished once, by KO against Vicente Luque back in 2016. Since then, Muhammad has just one loss in his last nine.
Muhammad brings with him a good amount of volume, but he will also eat about the same as he is delivering. Not the most defensively sound fighter, he knows his durability will carry him to spots that some fighters with lesser durability just can’t go.
How I’m Betting
With Edwards and Muhammad winning 22 total fights by decision, there’s a good chance Saturday’s fight gets into the championship rounds. Both men are durable enough, technical enough, and well-rounded enough to drag this fight into the deep and win it.
However, Edwards just seems like he is ripe and ready for his chance. He has been on the cusp for a while now and even though he has not been as active as Muhammad of late, his training should have him ready. This really is much more of a trajectory-defining spot for Edwards. If he wins this fight, I can’t see the UFC really denying him much longer. If Muhammad wins, his trajectory will surely be heading up, but he won’t be as undeniable as Edwards.
There are many different ways this fight can flow, and I really wouldn’t be surprised if it ends inside the distance. On the feet or on the ground, you can expect a much more controlled environment in this fight.
Edwards will be the taller and larger man with a two-inch reach advantage and the southpaw presentation which can always present a problem. Two of Muhammad’s losses home come against southpaws, and he’s 2-2 against them overall. I won’t look at that as a major issue here, but it is something that raises a small flag considering I view Edwards being far and away the best southpaw he has ever faced.
I see this as a close fight but one in which Edwards will slowly pull away. I just think his skill set is better mostly everywhere, and he should come away with the win.
The Pick: Edwards
Leon Edwards: $9,000
- 100+ Points: 2 of 10
- Streak: 8 fights won
- Finishes: 2 of 10
- Physical Advantages: 3-inch height, 2-inch reach, southpaw
- Avg FP: 73
- Hedge: 4-5
Edwards claims that his layoff has been a godsend to help him improve and get better. No one can surely tell just how much he added to his game and if cage rust will be involved. The difference in this fight to me is just the overall skill set and level of competition. Edwards has been tested by the best and although he has faltered to few, he has beat many of the tough tests thrown in front on him.
The one weakness that fighters seek to try to expose is his wrestling. I’m very curious to see if he throws a new wrinkle into that part of his game. This is going to be a close technical fight that I am not sure exactly how well it will score. Both men are not hefty finishers and that is a hell of a prize tag to cover with a feel that this may be going to the cards. Considering he has only hit the 100-point barrier two out of 10 times, that doesn’t seem likely to change against a very durable fighter in Belal.
VEGAS: Edwards as a parlay piece if you desire. The straight bet is a bit too high.
Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Pictured: Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad