Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns fight Saturday in UFC 288 at the Prudential Center. Muhammad enters this fight with a 22-3 record and has won 73 percent of his fights by decision. Burns enters this fight with a 22-5 record and has won 41 percent of his fights by submission.
Muhammad has won 8 of his last 9 fights and is coming off an October win over Sean Brady. He is averaging 4.47 significant strikes per minute, with an accuracy percentage of 42 percent. Muhammad is averaging 2.19 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 35 percent. Muhammad is coming off a knockout win at UFC 280 where he landed 80 total strikes and 38 percent of his significant strikes. The victory earned performance of the night honors. Muhammad hasn’t lost a fight since his bout against UFC Fight Night 143. Muhammad has proven to be a balanced fighter who does some of his best work on his feet. He also has a terrific gas tank that’s helped him win 16 of his 18 career decisions. Muhammad usually always gets the fight where he wants, and he does a great job of controlling the pace and not allowing his opponent to dictate much. Muhammad has never been submitted in his career. A purple belt in BJJ, Muhammad may not overwhelm his opponent, but he knows how to win and doesn’t allow his opponent to get comfortable. This will be Muhammad’s first career fight in New Jersey.
Burns has won 9 of his last 11 fights and is coming off an April win over Jorge Masvidal. Burns is averaging 3.38 significant strikes per minute, with an accuracy percentage of 47 percent. Burns is averaging 2.16 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 37 percent. Burns is coming off a decision win at UFC 287 where he landed 72 total strikes and produced 4 takedowns. It was a dominating performance from Burns, but it will be interesting to see how he looks fighting in back-to-back months. A win here would be 3 victories for Burns this year, putting him in the convo for fighter of the year. Burns has a decorated grappling background with plenty of experience in wrestling, and he’s a third degree black belt in BJJ. Burns is quick to find a submission hold once he gets the bout to the canvas and few have his grappling credentials, but he’s also decent on his feet with some pop in his hands and a come forward style. Burns doesn’t look as uncomfortable standing up as many guys with his background do, and he has 6 knockouts on his resume. At 36 years old, Burns has really come along these last few years and has improved his resume greatly. This will be Burns’ first career fight in New Jersey.
Muhammad and the plus money is intriguing, especially with Burns just fighting 5 rounds last month. Who knows what Burns looks like after just being in the octagon. Still, I’m going to back Burns and the cheap price. Burns is the more balanced fighter in terms of the ground game, but he has more to his stand-up and the pop is there to put fear in Muhammad.
Burns should win this fight and put his name in the convo for fighter of the year.