Interview: Belal Muhammad aiming for UFC 216 return, targets Yancy Medeiros and Cowboy Oliveira
After stringing back to back wins for the first time in his UFC career, Belal Muhammad wants to finish the year strong.
The always active Muhammad is targeting UFC 216 in October for his next bout and has a list of names that even include the Diaz brothers.
He last outclassed Jordan Mein at UFC 213 which completed a remarkable 5 fight year for the Palestinian fighter.
Training out of Roufus Sport with the likes of the Pettis brothers and welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, the proud Palestinian is looking to make an impact far beyond the cage door.
I spoke to Muhammad on finding his groove, who he’d like to fight next and representing his people. Check it out below.
Sports Rants: After an inconsistent start in the UFC, you were finally able to string back to back wins. What do you attribute your recent success to?
Belal Muhammad: I attribute my recent success to just getting comfortable in the UFC cage and just the whole experience of being in the UFC, I had to switch my training and just take it to a new level.
Sports Rants: You’ve also been very active having fought 5 times in this past year. How difficult was it to go through back to back to back camps throughout the year?
Belal Muhammad: Fighting 5 times in the last year has been great, I train all year round. I’m not one of those guys that only trains when a fight is signed. I’m constantly training and learning so having something to look forward to just makes everything that much better.
Sports Rants: You also went through a training camp during Ramadan. Most practicing Muslims avoid taking fights anywhere near Ramadan, describe to me your whole training experience as well as cutting weight while fasting.
Belal Muhammad: Training during Ramadan is great. I feel like it takes me to a whole new level mentally. I go through 2-3 practices before I even drink so my will and heart push me during those practices and when fight time comes I feel like nothing can break me. Cutting weight wasn’t an issue I’m not a big cutter anyway I usually only stay 15 pounds over so it’s not a big deal for me.
Sports Rants: You last beat Jordan Mein via unanimous decision in a very well rounded performance. Did the fight go the way you expected it to? Mein is a dangerous fighter and you were able to shut his game down.
Belal Muhammad: Mein was a very tough opponent. I wanted to finish him but I’ll take that W. I felt like I was able to beat him everywhere and I was able to show I’m a true martial artist in that fight. There was striking, grappling, wrestling and clinch work in that fight so I was happy to show I can do it all.
Sports Rants: I saw you comment on a post that you’re interested in competing on the UFC 216 card in October, do you have an opponent in mind?
Belal Muhammad: Yes I’m interested in fighting on 216. I’m willing to fight anyone but I feel a couple names that make sense would be Emil Meek, Yancy Medeiros, Brazilian Cowboy, Nate Diaz, and Nick Diaz.
Sports Rants: You proudly represent Palestine, what does it mean to you to be able to fly the flag high and represent your people especially in the hard times they’re going through? Do you get a lot of Palestinians reaching out to you?
Belal Muhammad: It means the world for me to be able to represent my people in a big stage like this. Most of the world only sees Muslims in a bad light and I’m trying to shine that light on the true Muslims and Palestine’s story. I’m contacted by Palestinians and Muslims all around the world and it feels good to know that I’m impacting so many lives.
Sports Rants: You train at Roufus Sport, how did you end up there? Tell me a little about your journey in MMA.
Belal Muhammad: Yea I moved down to Milwaukee and started training full time at Roufus Sport before my Randy brown fight. It’s an amazing gym with great coaches and training partners and only two hours away from my family and other teammates in Chicago so it works perfectly for me and my career.
Sports Rants: You train with the likes of the Pettis brothers and champion Tyron Woodley. What’s it like getting to train with such world class fighters and how much of a role do you guys play in each other’s training camps?
Belal Muhammad: It’s great to train with champions because you get to see what they do and you learn what you have to do to get at that level. I feel like we all push each other in that gym to new levels and I’m only growing and getting better by being there.