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Interview: Belal Muhammad aiming for UFC 216 return, targets Yancy Medeiros and Cowboy Oliveira

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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.

Photo by Getty Images/UFC

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.

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Conor McGregor Charged with Assault for Dublin Incident

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Conor McGregor

Former UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor has been charged with assault for punching a man in a bar in Dublin, Ireland back in April, that carries a maximum prison term of six months if convicted, a fine of $1,646, or both, according to the Independent.

McGregor’s spokesperson Karen Kessler confirmed that McGregor was formally served with a summons and is due in a Dublin court on October 11th, in a conversation with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.

McGregor expressed remorse for the incident back in August, during an interview with ESPN.

“I was in the wrong,” McGregor said, at the time. “That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it end the way it did. … I tried to make amends, and I made amends back then. But it doesn’t matter. I was in the wrong. I must come here before you and take accountability and take responsibility. I owe it to the people that have been supporting me. I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people who trained me in martial arts. That’s not who I am. That’s not the reason why I got into martial arts or studying combat sports. The reason I got into it was to defend against that type of scenario.”

“I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect — the things that made me the man I am,” McGregor continued. “And that’s what I will do.”

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UFC’s Stipe Miocic Likely Out for Year

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Stipe Miocic

UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic is considered to be “highly unlikely” to compete again for the remainder of 2019 after the fighter suffered an eye injury during his fight with Daniel Cormier back in August, Miocic’s agent said, according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.

Miocic (19-3) knocked out Cormier to reclaim the heavyweight title during the fourth round of their rematch at UFC 241, and there had been interest in a 3rd fight between Cormier and Miocic, potentially taking place at UFC 245 on December 14th in Las Vegas, however Miocic says that he is still recovering from a procedure that was done on his retina.

“I’ll be ready to fight when I can see out of both eyes again,” Miocic said in a statement to ESPN. “I can’t wait to defend my belt.”

According to Miocic’s agent, Jim Walter, the eye injury occurred when Cormier accidentally poked Miocic in the eye during the fight at UFC 241.

Miocic had complained of eye pokes during both of his fights against Cormier.

“Mr. Miocic sustained a major retina injury from multiple eye pokes during his bout at UFC 241,” said Walter, of Kaulig Sports and Entertainment. “Our client’s health and safety is our top priority. We are excited for him to return to action when he is healthy to compete in his seventh consecutive world title fight.”

Cormier, 40, recently stated his desire to put off retirement to fight Miocic a third time.

“I’m gonna fight this guy again,” Cormier said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier this week. “My intention is to fight him in the right way. … It has to be against Stipe, no one else matters.”

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Dana White: BJ Penn Won’t Fight in UFC Again

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BJ Penn

UFC president Dana White says that BJ Penn won’t be fighting in the UFC again after a pair of videos surfaced online showing Penn fighting in the streets while in Hawaii.

Penn (16-14-2), 40, was expected to fight Nik Lentz before the end of the year, but White says that plans to make that fight happen are now off following the videos going viral.

“He won’t fight again, that’s it,” White said, according to Brett Okamoto. “That’s a wrap. It’s not even that this was the last straw. I didn’t love him continuing to fight anyway, but with the relationship that he and I have — he gets me on the phone, begging me for another fight. It’s hard to turn him down.

“After what I saw in that video, BJ needs to, you know, he needs to focus on his personal life before he thinks about fighting.”

Penn, who will not face any charges for the incidents, and his representatives have since said he was trying to diffuse the situation and ultimately acted in self-defense.

“I don’t want to sit here and pick BJ Penn apart,” White said. “I think we all know what BJ Penn needs to do and hopefully BJ Penn knows what BJ Penn needs to do. What I saw in that video was sad and I love the kid. I hope he gets his life together. If BJ Penn needs me, all he has to do is pick up the phone and ask.”

 

 

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