Over the next few weeks, the UFC will put historical shows that could stand the test of time. At UFC 258, Kamaru Usman will look to prove he is still worthy of holding the UFC welterweight title, while Gilbert Burns will look to crash “The Nigerian Nightmare’s” party.
Those two aren’t the only welterweights on the card. Fighters from the division will look to show the world who they are. Who will step up when it matters most? Two fighters to keep an eye on include a ranked Belal Muhammad and a surging Dhiego Lima.
A former Titan FC welterweight champion, Muhammad made his UFC debut in 2016. Including losing to Alan Jouban in his debut, Muhammad is 8-2 in the octagon and is on a three-fight win streak. Opponents he has beaten include Tim Means, Randy Brown, Curtis Millender, Takashi Soto, and Lyman Good.
Ranked 13th in the UFC’s welterweight rankings, Muhammad is looking to make a statement. A colorful personality outside of the octagon, Muhammad has won fans over. He is hoping his ability and marketability, which includes his own program, Remember the Show, help convinces UFC brass to feed him the top fighters in the division.
“A lot of fighters know how good I am — that’s why a lot of them are afraid to fight me and take this fight,” Muhammad told the UFC. “I know that a lot of guys say no to me, so for me, it’s about staying the course and staying patient.”
“I know that my levels are good enough to be with the best guys and I know that I’m going to be a champion… as long as I keep going out there and winning, it’s going to come to me.”
With a title bout ahead of him on the card, Muhammad is confident he will eventually see the winner of the main event.
On the other side, Dhiego Lima is on his own journey. Another former Titan FC welterweight champion, Lima lost the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 25. He would lose another bout before going 3-0, his last fight a split decision win against Luke Jumeau.
It took a while for Lima, not ranked with the UFC, to get to this point of facing tough competitors like Muhammad. Lima’s past includes several injuries, including a spinal injury. Keeping an eye on his neck, Lima always had to worry. Now, he is focused on defying the odds.
“It’s a tough fight, of course, but it’s an opportunity I couldn’t say no to,” Lima stated to MMA Fighting. “He’s good everywhere but he’s not ‘wow’ in any area. You can’t make mistakes. He doesn’t go out to put on a show, he fights to win, so I know it will be an important fight for me to win and become ranked.”
As far as who has the advantage, Muhammad might have time on his side. Lima last fought in October 2019 while Muhammad has a June 2020 match under his belt. Muhammad also has an advantage when it comes to Significant Strikes Landed per Minute, landing around 4.48 compared to Lima’s 2.84. Lima, however, has a slight edge when it comes to Takedown Accuracy, with 44% compared to Muhammad’s 30%. With a stronger defense rate on the side of Muhammad, however, Lima must tread lightly or he will make a mistake.
The welterweight division will be showcased in a major way at UFC 258. Both fighters could benefit from a win, and hopefully, gain ground in a stacked division. By the end of the event, this could be Fight of the Night.
Prediction: Muhammad via unanimous decision