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Demian Maia set to fight Belal Muhammad at UFC 263

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UFC veteran Demian Maia is set to face up and comer Belal Muhammad in a 3-round battle in the UFC’s welterweight division at UFC 263.

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Muhammad (18-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) had a massive opportunity to catapult himself into title contention when he stepped in to face Leon Edwards in the main event of UFC Fight Night 187, but the bout ended in unfortunate circumstances.

At the beginning of the second round, an inadvertent eye poke by Edwards rendered Muhammad unable to continue and the fight was ruled a no contest. The damage on Muhammad’s eye was very visible but, fortunately, he was only handed a 30-day medical suspension.

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With the ending providing no clarity for either fighter, Muhammad thinks it only makes sense to run things back. However, Edwards showing no interest in him Belal said he would be open to face any top fighter next.

“I want a big fight,” Muhammad said. “I feel like I still earned the main event spot just being willing to take a fight on three weeks’ notice. A guy I feel like would be a good main event spot with me is Demian Maia. He’s top 10 and I feel like I deserve somebody top 10 coming off four wins in a row, so I think that fight makes sense. I haven’t gone against a real grappler in the UFC yet, so fighting a grappler, excites me. I wanna just show that side of me and to fight a legend like Demian Maia would be cool.” Muhammad told MMA Junkie.

Demian Maia-Belal Muhammad fight set for June 12

The UFC is finalizing a welterweight bout between Demian Maia and Belal Muhammad for a pay-per-view event on June 12. Contracts have not been signed, but verbal agreements are in place, sources said. The bout will take place at UFC 263 at a location to be announced.

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A UFC title challenger at both middleweight and welterweight, Maia competes for the first time since a UFC Fight Night in March of last year. At that event, Maia lost by first-round TKO to Gilbert Burns and saw a three-fight win streak snapped. The 43-year-old veteran competes in his 33rd UFC bout and currently holds a 22-10 record in the promotion.

Muhammad (18-3), of Chicago, is coming off a disappointing no-contest in his first-ever UFC main event against Leon Edwards on March 13. The fight ended in a no-contest when Muhammad was unable to continue after suffering an accidental eye poke in the second round. He campaigned for a rematch against Edwards, but Edwards has booked a fight against Nate Diaz in May.

Before the no-contest, he was on a four-fight win streak. He accepted the bout against Edwards on short notice, after Edwards’ original opponent, Khamzat Chimaev, withdrew because of medical issues caused by COVID-19.

UFC 263 is expected to feature a men’s flyweight title rematch between champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno.

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