Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad have been haded a chance to underscore their title credentials at 170-pounds.
The two highly-ranked welterweights (Muhammad #4, Burns #5) have both long been stating their respective cases for a world title bout, though the UFC matchmakers appear to be pointing the second-ranked Colby Covington in the direction of champion Leon Edwards (that’s a whole other story).
But come UFC 288 in just a few weeks’ time on May 6 in Newark, New Jersey, the dust will settle somewhat at the top of the division after it was revealed by Dana White on Thursday that the pair will fight in what will be a rare five-round co-main event fight.
“What I love about this fight is both guys wanted it to be five rounds,” White said, announcing the fight. “Two of the best guys in the division, and both guys think they deserve a title shot after this.”
Burns enters the fight as the winner of 9 of his past eleven fights; with those defeats coming only to Khamzat Chimaev and Kamaru Usman, the latter of which was Burns’ first and only world title fight in the UFC.
Muhammad, meanwhile, has been defeated just once in his past 14 — a decision defeat opposite Geoff Neal back in early 2019. Since then, Muhammad has been in imperious form and turned in arguably his finest UFC performance to date in his most recent fight in October when he snapped the undefeated streak of another contender, Sean Brady.
UFC 288 will be headlined by a bantamweight world title fight between champion Aljamain Sterling and the returning former champion Henry Cejudo.