UFC CEO Dana White has previously stated Muhammad would receive a welterweight title shot after extending his unbeaten streak to 10 fights with a short-notice win over Gilbert Burns at UFC 288 in May. His expectation is he will fight the winner of Saturday’s championship clash between Edwards (20-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) and Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC), but he’s leaving nothing to chance.
Muhammad (23-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) confirmed to MMA Junkie on Sunday that he will weigh in as the backup fighter in the unlikely situation Edwards or Covington are forced to withdraw from the final UFC event of 2023, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a main card that airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN2 and ESPN+.
“They just hit me up Friday, asked me if I’m willing to weigh in for next week,” Muhammad told MMA Junkie. “I think obviously they know Colby and Leon are the two most inactive welterweights in the division. Neither of these guys likes to fight. They’re both good at running. So just to be on the safe side, they called the dude that always steps up whenever needed.
If Muhammad’s services are needed, it would be a historic moment. The UFC routinely sets up alternates to weigh in for title fights in recent years, but never has a situation arisen where that person’s services were needed.
Nevertheless, Muhammad, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie welterweight rankings, wants to make sure he’s front of mind as No. 1-ranked Edwards and No. 4-ranked Covington battle for gold in “Sin City.”
“For me, I was training this whole time regardless just in case something happened,” Muhammad said. “The last two main events on the pay-per-views both got canceled, but since my last fight with Gilbert Burns, I took that one on short notice and I was like, ‘I never want to get out of shape like this again.’ Because I was so bad before that fight and it was the hardest fight cut ever. So I knew I had to be a professional from then on. Never getting big like that again.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 296.