The latest official UFC rankings have Belal Muhammad jumping five spots from where he was before he defeated Stephen Thompson at UFC Vegas 45. Now ranked No. 5 in the rankings, Muhammad has seemingly turned his attention to the man who holds down the No. 11 spot at 170 pounds in the UFC - Khamzat Chimaev.
“To me, rankings don’t mean anything. It’s about hype,” Muhammad told MMA Fighting. “It’s about who the UFC wants to push and who’s that guy? Who’s that [Conor] McGregor now? Who’s that next big star? As we saw last year with [Jorge] Masvidal, where it’s like, you don’t have to be No. 2 to get the title shot. You don’t have to be No. 1 to get the title shot.
“It’s about who’s getting that push right now in that right moment. Right now in that right moment, [with] Khamzat, you get the most hype from beating a guy like him than anybody [else] honestly.”
Muhammad is on a seven-fight unbeaten streak (6-0, 1 no contest) after his dominant win over Thompson. Going back to 2017, Muhammad’s UFC record is 10-1 (1 no contest). His only loss being a unanimous decision setback to Geoff Neal in 2019.
UFC president Dana White recently said the promotion is having trouble finding opponents for Chimaev, who is 10-0 in overall and 4-0 in the UFC. All of Chimaev’s wins have come via stoppage. He is coming off a first-round technical submission win over Li JIngliang at UFC 267 in October.
“Nobody wants to fight this guy,” White said of Chimaev on Jim Rome’s show in early December. “Everybody wants to get out on social media and say this or that. But when it really comes down to it, nobody is trying to fight Khamzat Chimaev. I don’t blame them.”
Muhammad, who has been with the UFC since 2016 — he joined the promotion shortly after winning the Titan FC welterweight crown — doesn’t seem convinced that Chimaev is the real deal. However., he knows the UFC thinks he is, and that’s enough for Muhammad to want to fight him.
“Do I know why he’s got all this hype? He’s got four wins [in the UFC],” Muhammad said. “Do I think he’s this Terminator because of those four wins? No. Do I think that he’s this pay-per-view star because of those four wins? No. But the UFC does.
“If they think that, then I’m the one that’s going to have to put a stop to it.”