Dave Lovell, head coach of Leon Edwards, finds himself uncertain about the next contender for the UFC welterweight title, yet he introduces a new name into the conversation alongside Belal Muhammad.
“Belal’s earned his place, hasn’t he?” Lovell remarked during an interview. “Even though he still hasn’t done what Leon did. He didn’t go through the tribulations Leon did. But you know what? He’s earned himself his contendership. To be honest, if I really had a choice, but I don’t think it will happen, I would like Leon to fight [Gilbert] Burns.”
However, Lovell acknowledges that Burns might need a couple more wins before being considered a title contender again. Expressing a preference for Burns over Muhammad, Lovell believes Burns brings more to the table, citing his past performances and skill set. Despite this preference, Lovell asserts that they are prepared to face whoever the UFC puts forward.
Edwards, coming off a dominant victory over Colby Covington at UFC 296, secured his second defense of the UFC welterweight title. The undefeated force at 170 pounds has triumphed over notable fighters, including Kamaru Usman, Vicente Luque, Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone, Gunnar Nelson, and Rafael dos Anjos. Lovell points out the earlier encounter with Muhammad, which ended in a no-contest due to an eye poke.
While Muhammad has been on an impressive streak, winning his last five fights, Burns suffered a recent setback with a one-sided loss to Muhammad. Despite Burns’ recent performance, Lovell maintains him as his top choice for Edwards’ next challenger.
Despite UFC CEO Dana White not confirming Muhammad as the next title contender, Lovell expresses readiness for any outcome. He emphasizes the business perspective, questioning the pay-per-view potential of a matchup between Edwards and Muhammad.
Lovell mentions that the UFC has contacted Edwards’ team about a possible return bout in April at UFC 300. Although not discussed with Edwards yet, Lovell believes this timeline aligns well with the champion’s readiness after a recent camp.
“There’s word on that, but we’ll just see what the boss [Edwards] says and if he’s down for it,” Lovell said. “He can have a little break over Christmas and obviously back to the grindstone if he wants this piece of this pie in April.”