UFC Fight Night Report: Belal Muhammad defeats Vicente Luque in rematch

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UFC Fight Night Report: Belal Muhammad defeats Vicente Luque in rematch

By: Eric Marcotte

On Saturday night, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a rematch between two highly ranked welterweights, as Vicente Luque faced Belal Muhammad. The two fighters fought previously at UFC 205 in November of 2016, a matchup that Luque won by first-round knockout. Since then, both fighters have climbed up the welterweight rankings, knocking off the two men who fought for the welterweight championship on that very same night, with Luque submitting Tyron Woodley, and Muhammad defeating Stephen Thompson. With both men on solid win streaks, this was a fight that could very well determine the next contender at welterweight, a division in need of fresh matchups for its champion, Kamaru Usman.

Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this card alongside Daniel Cormier and Dominick Cruz. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Drakkar Klose and Andre Fialho. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Mayra Bueno Silva and Wu Yanan.


*Alatengheili def. Kevin Croom by TKO at 0:47 of Round 1

*Sam Hughes def. Istela Nunes by majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)

*Jordan Leavitt def. Trey Ogden by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Martin Buday def. Chris Barnett by technical unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Rafa Garcia def. Jesse Ronson by rear-naked choke at 4:50 of Round 2

*Drakkar Klose def. Brandon Jenkins by TKO at 0:33 of Round 2

*Pannie Kianzad def. Lina Landsberg by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Devin Clark def. William Knight by TKO at 3:21 of Round 3

*Mounir Lazzez def. Ange Loosa by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Pat Sabatini def. T.J Laramie by unanimous decision (30-26 all)

*Mayra Bueno Silva def. Wu Yanan by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

*Andre Fialho def. Miguel Baeza by TKO at 4:39 of Round 1

*Caio Borralho def. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev by technical unanimous decision (29-27 all)

*Belal Muhammad def. Vicente Luque by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)

ALATENGHEILI (14-8-2, 135.5) VS KEVIN CROOM (21-14, 1 NC, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT

Just seconds into the fight, Alatengheili landed an overhand right that rocked Croom, and he proceeded to swarm Croom with short hooks until he fell to the ground face first, where the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Alatengheili by TKO at 0:47 of Round 1

Croom is a durable fighter, but he has not fought at bantamweight since 2015, and one has to wonder how much he depleted himself by cutting down to 136lbs after years of fighting at featherweight. That’s not to take anything away from Alatengheili, who landed the perfect shot here to put his opponent away early. Alatengheili is now 3-1-1 in the UFC, and this marked his first stoppage victory since joining the promotion.

ISTELA NUNES (6-2, 1 NC, 114) VS SAM HUGHES (5-4, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT

Nunes was cracking Hughes with quick counters whenever Hughes attempted to close the distance. An accidental eye poke from Nunes brought a pause to the action, but Hughes did not take much time to recover before the bout resumed. Hughes was cut open, seemingly in the middle of her forehead, from one of the straight right hands that her opponent was consistently landing. Nunes was repeatedly connecting with teep kicks to the body as well, keeping Hughes at range. 10-9 Nunes.

The counterattacks from Nunes continued to cause difficulties for Hughes in round two, who was having a lot of trouble producing consistent offense. She was unable to get the fight to the ground and was taking significant damage on the feet. Things did start to turn around for Hughes in the second half of the round, when she began to really pressure forward, disrupting Nunes’ rhythm. In the final seconds of the round, Hughes finally secured a takedown and landed a series of left hands before the horn, which made for a much closer round. 19-19.

Nunes was looking a bit tired by the third round, and the momentum of the fight seemed to have shifted in favour of Hughes, who was repeatedly tagging Nunes with straight right hands. Once again, an eye poke from Nunes brought a pause to the action, and this time, a point was deducted due to the repeated foul. Hughes took Nunes down, where she began to work from half guard, landing numerous short strikes. Nunes had no answers for Hughes on the ground and was unable to return to her feet before time in the round expired. 29-27 Hughes.

WINNER: Sam Hughes by majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)

Nunes looked to be several steps ahead of Hughes in the first half of the fight, but she faded towards the end of the second round, and Hughes capitalized. Nunes fought the near entirety of the fight with her fingers outstretched as well, which cost her an additional point after a number of clear eye pokes. This was a much-needed win for Hughes, who was 0-3 in the promotion going into this one, so she was understandably quite emotional after the big win. Nunes fell to 0-2 in the promotion following this loss.


Leavitt and Ogden trade leg kicks and body shots early throughout the first half of round one. Ogden eventually slipped on a head kick attempt, and Leavitt capitalized, following him to the ground where he was able to take top position. Ogden attempted a guillotine off of his back, and he had it locked in tight, but Leavitt was able to survive until the round reached its conclusion. 10-9 Ogden.

An early headbutt in the second round seemed to shake the jaw of Leavitt, and he was given a short period of time to recover after the unintentional foul. Ogden’s attack was focused on the body, landing numerous right hands to the left side of Leavitt’s torso. Both fighters defended takedowns from the other, so the fight stayed on the feet throughout this round. Leavitt was connecting with a lot of leg kicks, but was far behind in terms of activity to the head and body. I thought Ogden’s offence was a bit more impactful, but you could really go either way on this round. 20-18 Ogden.

Ogden stuffed a takedown to begin the final round and took top position. Leavitt pushed Ogden off of him, and returned to his feet with little difficulty. Ogden did get the fight back to the ground however and was able to rack up a considerable amount of control time throughout the first two minutes of this round. Leavitt landed a pair of hard right hands back on the feet, and he proceeded to defend a takedown from Ogden before taking top position. Leavitt remained in top position for the remainder of the round, and I thought he took this last one on the scorecards. 29-28 Ogden.

WINNER: Jordan Leavitt by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

This was not a spectacular fight. It’s not as though there was an extreme lack of activity from either man, but both fighters were rather cautious on the feet, chipping away at their opponent from range. To Leavitt’s credit, he nearly set a record for most leg kicks in a lightweight bout, but I believe he fell just short of the record held by Benson Henderson (unsurprisingly). I gave the edge to Ogden on my scorecard, but this was really one of those bouts where you can’t complain much about a 29-28 scorecard for either man. Leavitt is now 3-1 in the UFC.


Both fighters were swinging for the fences early, but there were not many connections before Buday pushed Barnett against the cage. Barnett spent a considerable portion of the round with his back to the cage but was able to create some separation and land some heavy shots on occasion. Still, I thought Buday did enough to earn the round, between his strikes landed in the clinch, and his overwhelming control time. 10-9 Buday.

Buday connected with a jumping switch kick to the body to begin the second round, but was quickly wrapped up by Buday once again, who dragged him back to the cage. Eventually, Barnett broke away, but proceeded to re-engage Buday in the clinch, where he was quickly turned around, and Buday continued to press Barnett against the cage. By the time this round reached its end, I could not believe that only ten minutes had passed.  20-18 Buday.

Barnett told his corner that he broke a rib between rounds. Buday immediately brought him back to the cage to begin the final round. A hard knee to the body sent Barnett to the ground, but an illegal elbow to the back of the head caught Barnett hard, and it was ruled that Barnett could not continue. The fight thus went to the scorecards, and I scored this dreadful fight 30-27 for Martin Buday.

WINNER: Martin Buday by technical unanimous decision (30-27 all)

This was a very long fiight, with very little activity from either fighter. You cannot criticize Buday’s performance much, as he controlled every round, but that illegal elbow in the third almost cost him the bout. Referee Dan Miragliotta deemed it unintentional, and thus he was not disqualified, however, another referee very well may have made the opposite call. Regardless, this was largely a strong performance from him, although it certainly was not an entertaining one. If you did not catch this card and are reading this report in search of the fights worth going back to watch, I would strongly recommend skipping this particular bout. This marked Buday’s UFC debut.

RAFA GARCIA (12-2, 155) VS JESSE RONSON (21-10, 1 NC, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Garcia outlanded Ronson early, but Ronson pressured forward regardless, landing the occasional shot to the body. Garcia changed levels and took Ronson down late in the round, but lost his position when he attempted to take Ronson’s back. Ronson returned to his feet and created some separation, but had his foot stomped repeatedly before Garcia took him back down. I thought Garcia took this opening round.

Garcia defended a takedown to begin the second round, before securing one of his own. Ronson used the cage to make his way back to the feet, but ate a knee to the head in the process. The knee was deemed illegal, and a point was deducted from Garcia. Once the action resumed, Garcia immediately took the fight back to the ground, where he landed strong ground and pound, before taking Ronson’s back with a minute remaining in the round. Garcia was able to secure the rear-naked choke, and Ronson was forced to submit.

WINNER: Rafa Garcia by rear naked choke at 4:50 of Round 2

Despite Ronson’s forward pressure, Garcia was the more aggressive fighter and was landing the better shots on the feet. Eventually, he opted to take the fight to the ground, and while Ronson did an admirable job of repeatedly returning to his feet, this is where the fight began to get away from him. Garcia was able to take him to the ground at will, and eventually, the opportunity for the finish presented itself. Garcia is now 2-2 in the UFC.


Klose secured an early takedown despite a fence grab from Jenkins, but was unable to maintain the position. Klose landed some hard knees to the left side of Jenkins’ body, causing noticeable redness, before landing about twenty straight brutal right hands on Jenkins in the clinch, who was barely defending himself. I was surprised that the fight was not stopped, but eventually, Klose began to tire, and Jenkins was able to recover. In the final minute of the round, however, Klose landed a right hand that dropped Jenkins, and he continued his attack as Jenkins picked himself up against the cage. Jenkins survived the round, but this was a very one-sided five minutes in favor of Drakkar Klose.

Klose went right back on the attack in round two, rocking Jenkins with a pair of uppercuts, before dropping him twice with heavy right hands. Referee Herb Dean had seen enough, and the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Drakkar Klose by TKO at 0:33 of Round 2

Klose was a massive favorite going into this one, and it quickly became clear why. This was a very one-sided fight, with Jenkins spending the near entirety of it on the verge of being finished. The final sequence of the fight was brutal, and I was definitely asking myself if the fight should have been stopped earlier, but those are the harsh realities of the sport. Klose repeatedly called out Mark O. Madsen in his post-fight interview, and I think that there is a good chance that the UFC puts together that fight next.


These two fighters fought previously at “Trophy MMA 1” in December of 2012, a fight that Kianzad won by third-round TKO.

Lansberg attempted to force Kianzad into a clinch fight early, and she was able to bring the fight there repeatedly throughout the round. Kianzad was the more comfortable striker, but seemed willing to engage Lansberg in the grappling department, especially after an overhand right from Landsberg found its target. Kianzad secured a takedown with around ninety seconds remaining, where she successfully took the back of her opponent. Kianzad maintained this position for the remainder of the round. 10-9 Kianzad.

Landsberg was cut open near her left eye following a clinch exchange with Kianzad. She was bleeding heavily, although it did not appear to be impairing her vision much at this point. Landsberg continued to hunt for takedowns, but Kianzad’s defense held up, and a doctor was brought in to check on Landsberg’s cut. It was determined that she could continue, but she seemed to be falling behind on the scorecards as the round neared its end. Just as it seemed as though Kianzad was pulling ahead, a big elbow from Lansberg dropped Kianzad, ending the round strongly. 19-19.

Kianzad seemed to have recovered from the knockdown at the end of the second round, but with the fight likely tied on the scorecards, this was anybody’s fight going into the third round. Kianzad connected with a nice left hook early, as well as a quick combination that caught Landsberg flush. Landsberg responded with a heavy right hand, and she had opened up a cut on the bridge of Kianzad’s nose early in the round. Kianzad had doubled Landsberg up in terms of third-round activity according to the numbers displayed on the UFC broadcast, and it was really that activity that ultimately determined the round. Kianzad avoided the clinch and was able to fight in her comfort zone for five minutes, taking this final round on the scorecards. 29-28 Kianzad.

WINNER: Pannie Kianzad by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

The elbow that dropped Kianzad in the second round made this fight interesting, but by and large, Kianzad appeared to be a step ahead of Lansberg throughout this bout. She was clearly the better striker and was even getting the better of Lansberg in some of the clinch exchanges, which is where Landsberg likes to work. Kianzad improved to 2-0 over Landsberg following this win, and the two Swedish fighters shared a moment in the cage after the bout, nearly a decade removed from their previous fight.


Clark shot for a takedown about a minute into the bout, and Knight countered with a guillotine attempt. Knight maintained the squeeze for nearly three minutes, but Clark did not appear to be in danger of being finished. Eventually, Knight let it go, and he just swarmed Clark with strikes, seemingly overwhelming him as Clark looked to escape along the cage. Clark was able to change levels and relieve the pressure, but could not secure the takedown that he was looking for before the round reached its end.

Clark nearly caught Knight with a pair of heavy left hooks, but Knight narrowly avoided the big shots. Eventually, Clark was able to take Knight to the ground following a quick right hand that stunned him. Clark moved into full mount, but did not posture up, instead choosing to hunt for an arm triangle. Clark was unable to find the submission, and Knight exploded to his feet with seconds remaining in the round, where he secured a late takedown of his own.

Both fighters were a bit hesitant to engage in the third round, as they were both tired, and knew a single mistake could cost them the round. Clark chased after takedowns, but Knight’s defense held up, and they spent a large portion of this round wrestling against the cage. Eventually, Clark broke away and landed a right elbow as well as a left hook that dropped Knight, and Clark swarmed him with strikes until the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Devin Clark by TKO at 3:21 of Round 3

This was largely a slow fight, with occasional bursts of explosive offense. The finishing sequence was quite brutal, made all the more shocking by the lack of activity preceding it. Clark secured his first knockout victory in the UFC following this finish, which is rather surprising considering that this marked his thirteenth fight in the promotion. Perhaps the extra pounds at heavyweight made the difference, but regardless, I would not expect Clark to fight in this division again, at least any time soon.


Lazzez was slightly more active than Loosa early in the fight, countering strongly with body shots whenever the opportunities presented themselves. Lazzez was active with leg kicks as well, and Loosa seemed to be having difficulties finding openings. Lazzez worked his jab throughout the round, and changed levels late, looking for a takedown. Loosa defended successfully, and the round ended on the feet. 10-9 Lazzez.

The second round started off at a frantic pace, as Lazzez came out swinging, and Loosa looked to change levels. Loosa nearly got Lazzez down, but he lost the leg of Lazzez, and Lazzez was able to separate and reset in the center of the cage. The jab of Lazzez continued to prove effective, and he was really controlling the range in this fight. Loosa connected with a straight right hand as Lazzez dug into the body, which was probably his most impactful strike of the fight to that point. Loosa defended a takedown to end the round. 20-18 Lazzez.

A hard jab from Loosa prompted Lazzez forward, ninety seconds into the final round. They exchanged right hands, with Loosa’s seemingly landing with more power, however, he was not striking in combination, so the fighters just traded singular strikes more often than not. In the final minute of the fight, Lazzez finally let loose, attacking Loosa with a fantastic combination that hurt Loosa, and I thought that these final seconds were the difference maker in what was a very close round. 30-27 Lazzez.

WINNER: Mounir Lazzez by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Lazzez was a step ahead of Loosa throughout this bout, although Loosa definitely kept things competitive, especially in round three. Lazzez was very effective with his leg kicks and bodywork, and that did a lot to keep Loosa from advancing throughout the bout. In the final minute of the fight, Lazzez really let loose offensively, and arguably did his best work of the fight, but either way, this was a strong performance throughout all three rounds.

The UFC aired a video package in tribute to Marlon Moraes, who announced his retirement earlier in the week. Moraes ended his career on a rough stretch of bouts, being finished in five of his final six fights, but prior to that, Moraes was one of the most feared fighters in the division, working his way to a UFC title shot in 2019, where he ultimately lost to Henry Cejudo. Prior to his stint in the UFC, Moraes was the World Series of Fighting Bantamweight Champion, a title that he successfully defended five times before vacating. Moraes defeated a number of former (and future) champions throughout his career, including Jose Aldo, Miguel Torres, and Aljamain Sterling, the latter being one of the most brutal knockout finishes that you’ll ever see in MMA. If Moraes truly does not fight again, he will retire with a professional record of 23-10-1.

PAT SABATINI (16-3, 146) VS T.J. LARAMIE (12-4, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Laramie took top position on the ground early in the first round, where Sabatini looked to set up a triangle off of his back. While Sabatini did not find the submission here, he was able to pop back to his feet, and secured a takedown of his own. It did not take Laramie long to escape, but he ate a brutal body kick that caused him to double over. Sabatini jumped on a guillotine; however, Laramie escaped the submission, and he took top position, which he maintained until the end of the round. 10-9 Sabatini.

Both men chased after takedowns early in the second round, and it was Sabatini who was ultimately successful. Sabatini partially climbed onto the back of Laramie, where he began to hunt for a rear-naked choke. While Laramie did a good job of defending the choke, he ate numerous hard right hooks, and this was quickly becoming a very one-sided round. Laramie made it until the end of the round, but I thought Sabatini did more than enough to earn a 10-8 here.

Sabatini was able to take Laramie back to the ground about a minute into the final round, where he began to work from half guard. Laramie did a good job of escaping the position, but he couldn’t create separation, and Sabatini dragged Laramie down repeatedly against the cage. In the final seconds of the bout, Laramie scrambled into top position, but there was not enough time remaining for him to steal back the round. 30-26 Sabatini.

WINNER: Pat Sabatini by unanimous decision (30-26 all)

The first round was fairly competitive, but the bout became increasingly more one-sided as we moved into the later rounds. Sabatini did excellent work in the second round, really doing a ton of damage with his ground and pound shots after it became clear that Laramie would not give up his neck so easily. Sabatini is now 4-0 in the UFC, and in the post-fight interview, Daniel Cormier suggested that it may be time for Sabatini to be matched up with a ranked opponent. While I don’t know if Sabatini will get that ranked fighter for his next bout, he is certainly close, and this was yet another dominating performance.


On commentary, Dominick Cruz basically called out Jose Aldo, which is a fight that I have been pushing for, for a very long time. A left hand from Bueno Silva knocked Wu down just over a minute into the fight, which was a huge moment early in this bout. Wu seemed to have recovered and did some good work with her kicks from distance, but it was certainly not enough to take back this round, especially considering that Bueno Silva continued to land the more damaging strikes throughout this round, including a huge right hand just before time in the round expired. 10-9 Bueno Silva.

Wu put together a combination of punches in the opening minute of round two, but Bueno Silva made up ground by tagging Wu with a head kick. Wu shot in for a takedown, and was nearly trapped in a triangle, but she was able to escape and moved into side control. Bueno Silva remained the more effective fighter even from bottom position, however, attempting a kimura that nearly finished the fight. Yet again, Wu was able to escape, but this time Bueno Silva made it back to her feet as well. 20-18 Bueno Silva.

Wu was moving constantly, but despite her activity, there was very little effective offense, missing on a high percentage of her attempted strikes. She remained busier than Bueno Silva, however, whose output had really waned by this final round. Bueno Silva remained in the fight due to her power advantage, and in the final ninety seconds or so of the round, she began to go on the attack once more, pulling ahead on the third-round strike count. This was the closest round of the fight, and while I thought Wu narrowly edged it out, I scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Bueno Silva.

WINNER: Mayra Bueno Silva by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Bueno Silva clearly had the power advantage, and Wu had difficulties overcoming that, as every time she was hit, the reaction was fierce. Wu certainly improved as the fight progressed, but with two rounds banked by Bueno Silva, it was too little too late for Wu, who was never able to put Bueno Silva in a significant spot of danger, even after Bueno Silva appeared to tire. With this win, Bueno Silva improved to 3-2-1 in the UFC.


Baeza caught Fialho with the first big strike of the fight, a straight right hand. Neither fighter was terribly active throughout this round, which is very rare for a Miguel Baeza fight. As the round progressed, however, Baeza seemed to get a bit more comfortable, pressuring forward whilst attacking in combination. Just as Baeza seemed to be pulling ahead in the round, Fialho went on the attack, landing numerous uppercuts in the clinch, and Baeza was rocked. Baeza attempted to create some separation, but Fialho connected with a left hook that floored Baeza, and he proceeded to finish the fight with a hammer fist.

WINNER: Andre Fialho by TKO at 4:39 of Round 1

I commented that Baeza wasn’t fighting with his normal aggression, but just as he began to pressure forward, Fialho showed why a bit of hesitance can be wise. Baeza protested the stoppage, but I thought it was more than fair, and this was a very big win for Andre Fialho, against a tough opponent in Miguel Baeza. This marked Fialho’s first UFC win, and it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. Two fights into his UFC run, Fialho has had no easy matchups, and I imagine that trend will continue following this finish.


Borralho pressured forward, attacking Omargadzhiev with kicks to the body. Omargadzhiev caught Borralho with a right hand, before catching a kick and dragging Borralho down to the ground. Borralho immediately rolled into top position, where the commentators pointed out that Borralho has worked with Demian Maia on his ground game throughout the last eight years. Borralho took the back of Omargadzhiev, where he began to search for a rear-naked choke. He didn’t find the submission, but landed some strong elbows, and maintained this position until the end of the round. 10-9 Borralho.

Borralho caught Omargadzhiev with a flying knee in the opening minute of round two, before practically dropping him with a hard left hand. Omargadzhiev recovered, but he charged forward and overswung, allowing Borralho to take his back on the ground yet again. Once again, Borralho was able to stick to Omargadzhiev’s back, and while the submission didn’t come, this was another dominant round. 20-18 Borralho.

Just seconds into the final round, a low blow sent Borralho to the ground, and he was given time to recover. Borralho attempted another flying knee after the right resumed, but this one did not catch Omargadzhiev as cleanly. He took Omargadzhiev down one more time, and once again took the back of Omargadzhiev as he attempted to work his way up. With just a minute remaining in the fight, Borralho landed an illegal knee as Omargadzhiev’s hand was on the ground, and the fight was stopped after it was determined that Omargadzhiev could not continue. Just like the earlier bout on the card, it was decided that this fight would go to the scorecards, and Borralho would not be disqualified (although a point was deducted).

WINNER: Caio Borralho by technical unanimous decision (29-27 all)

While the actual fight will be overshadowed by its ending, this was an excellent performance from Borralho. He was explosive on the feet, and truly looked like an elite grappler whenever the fight went to the ground. In his post-fight interview, Borralho talked about how training with Demian Maia for years had shaped his ground game, and he really showcased that throughout the fight with his back control. Now, onto the finish, which naturally has become the story of the night. Twice throughout this card, there was an illegal blow, that was landed in the final round, that caused a stoppage to the bout. In both of those fights, the illegal blow was deemed unintentional, and the fighter who landed the fight-ending strike got his arm raised. In the earlier bout, Martin Buday was not deducted a point due to the illegal strike. In this one, Borralho was deducted a point due to the illegal strike, although he was far enough ahead on the scorecards that he won regardless. There were some strange inconsistencies, and that’s not even diving into the wider issue of; how does one judge when an illegal blow is unintentional? For example, why was Petr Yan’s famous illegal knee against Aljamain Sterling deemed intentional, while this knee was ruled unintentional? I’m unsure of the answer, but regardless, I imagine there will be a lot of eyes on Dan Miragliotta coming out of this, who ultimately had to make the decision in both of these controversial fights.


Muhammad and Luque fought previously at UFC 205 in November of 2016, a fight Luque won by first-round knockout.

The fighters touched gloves to begin the main event. Luque pressured forward, while Muhammad looked for his opportunity to change levels. Muhammad circled the cage, landing strong body kicks, and I thought he was doing a very good job of keeping Luque at range here. Eventually, Muhammad changed levels, and he took Luque down in the center of the octagon. Luque prevented Muhammad from doing much damage and returned to his feet before time expired. 10-9 Muhammad.

Luque threw a lot of leg kicks in the first round, and they seemed to be adding up by round two. Muhammad responded with a one-two, which backed Luque off of him momentarily. Muhammad seemed to be landing the more impactful strikes, although the leg kicks from Luque were certainly significant as well. With just over ninety seconds remaining in the round, Muhammad took Luque back down, where he was able to control Luque for roughly a minute. Another good round for Muhammad. 20-18 Muhammad.

A left hook from Luque wobbled Muhammad slightly, and Luque began to go on the attack as he attempted to finish the fight. He landed some strong shots, and Muhammad was looking a bit off, but he was able to close the distance and buy himself some time to recover while Luque defended the takedown. Luque had really grown in confidence though, and the shots he was landing were drawing big reactions from Muhammad. Muhammad secured a much-needed takedown, but Luque popped back up with a minute to go in the round. Muhammad landed a spinning elbow that Luque shrugged off, and they proceeded to trade hard shots in the pocket. This was a much stronger round for Vincente Luque. 29-28 Muhammad.

Muhammad took Luque down a minute and a half into the fourth round, which was his earliest takedown in a round to this point. Luque scrambled back to his feet with two minutes remaining, where Luque landed a big left hook. Muhammad fired back with a body kick, as well as a hard jab, and Luque was not fighting with the output that he needed to, considering that he may very well have been down in the round. I scored this round for Muhammad, although it was a competitive one. 39-37 Muhammad.

Luque’s corner told him that it was all tied up on the scorecards going into this final round, which may have been a dangerous thing to tell him if he was indeed in need of a finish. Luque defended a pair of takedowns from Muhammad, and on Muhammad’s next attempt, Luque threatened a choke. Muhammad quickly escaped and chased Luque down to the other side of the cage, where he secured the takedown that he was looking for. Luque escaped with a minute remaining in the fight, but Muhammad continued to be the more active fighter on the feet, and I thought he took this final round as well. 49-46 Muhammad.

WINNER: Belal Muhammad by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-47)

Muhammad fought an excellent fight here, with one of the best striking performances of his career. Obviously, it was his wrestling that ultimately won him the fight, but I thought he held his own against Luque on the feet, and really just used his wrestling to secure rounds when necessary. Now, it was the threat of the takedown that caused Luque to fight somewhat hesitantly in the first place, but still, its worth noting these significant improvements that Muhammad has made to his game over the years. He will be moving into a top-five position in the welterweight division following this win, and I do imagine he will be fighting one of the division’s top contenders in his next bout. Muhammad called out Colby Covington in his post-fight interview, which could make for a very interesting matchup stylistically.

About Eric Marcotte 189 Articles
A graduate of Laurentian University, Eric reports on Mixed Martial Arts at POST Wrestling.