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UFC’s Belal Muhammad hopes win over Dhiego Lima will finally secure bout with ranked foe

Belal Muhammad is being made to wait in his quest to climb the UFC welterweight ladder.

Muhammad (17-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) was scheduled to face Dhiego Lima last weekend at UFC Fight Night 183, but was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.

Initially targeting a return on the UFC’s first event of 2021, Muhammad realized that might not be feasible after getting hit fairly hard with COVID-19 symptoms.

Before Muhammad was booked to face Lima, he drew another unranked opponent in Sean Brady, but Brady was forced to pull out and he was replaced by Lima. So whether or not the UFC decides to rebook him against Lima, all Muhammad knows is that, if he gets a win next time out, he’d like a ranked opponent next.

“It all depends on whether Lima wants to wait or not,” Muhammad told MMA Junkie Radio. “This thing pushed me back a little bit just because if I do end up having to fight Lima again, I have a set plan where it’s like, ‘Alright, I beat Lima and now I finally get a ranked guy.’ I got my number now, he came up, basically got lucky because he got a ranked opponent now. It took me forever to get a ranked opponent, he got a ranked opponent so it’s all on him if he wants to wait for me to get healthy and fight me because your goal is to be in the rankings. So if he wants to wait for me, that’s a ranked guy, so why not wait for me?

“But if he doesn’t, cool, I don’t really care. I don’t have anything personal or anything against him. I just want a name, I want somebody to fight, and I wanna move up that ladder. I want to keep moving up that ladder. For me, the only thing that’s heartbreaking is I would have fought him, if I would have beat him, my next fight for sure would have been against a ranked guy. So let’s see who the UFC gives me now, (and see) what they’re thinking now.”

Muhammad admits that though Lima (15-7 MMA, 4-5 UFC) is unranked, it would be convenient if they rescheduled that fight, considering that he was already in training camp for him.

“If it’s gonna be Lima again, I was already training for him, so hopefully that will be a lot easier if we could just do that and then pop that up in February real quick.”

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