Belal Muhammad (+210) vs. Leon Edwards (-260)
Weight Class: Middleweight (185 lb)
Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad will be squaring up for what should be one of the more uncertain main events in recent months. For Edwards, he will be making his first appearance in over a year. The Englishman was on a great run before the pandemic really screwed up his plans and he was set for a London main event against Tyron Woodley last March. His last three wins have come against RDA, Gunnar Nelson and Cowboy Cerrone, so some very quality competition.
As for Muhammad, he will be getting a great opportunity with his first UFC main event. He will be filling in for Khazmat Chimaev, whose career is uncertain as of this writing.
Muhammad has been on a nice run himself, securing decisive wins over his last few outings, albeit against lesser, but still solid competition compared to Edwards.
Ultimately, the time off is obviously the biggest factor here. You just never know when a fighter hasn’t been in there for awhile, so it’s totally possible that ring rust gets to Leon.
With that said, this should be his fight to lose. Belal Muhammad is a very well rounded mixed martial artist, but I don’t think he’s quite at the point where he can beat a guy like Edwards. Belal has one of the best jabs in the division, but I think his style will be tough to translate to five rounds.
Belal Muhammad utilizes such a high work rate and it’s part of what makes him effective. He will either have to switch up his game-plan and attempt to duel with a very good counter striker and kick-boxer in Edwards, or he could come in with his usual high work rate. The problem with that is obviously his gas tank. Belal is a cardio beast, but it’s always tricky adjusting to the first UFC main event.
Ultimately I think Leon’s counter striking will start to take over come late round two, early three. By that point, Belal could be tiring or down on the cards if he’s not. This is a great opportunity for Belal Muhammad and I’m certainly not counting him out by any stretch, but this should be a victory for Leon Edwards.
Betting wise, I think Leon Edwards moneyline at (-260) is a solid price if this breaks down the way I think it will. At (+350), I like Leon Edwards by KO for sprinkle bets.
Prediction and play: Leon Edwards moneyline (-260)
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