Belal Muhammad had hoped to be named the number one contender in the UFC welterweight division during the post-fight press conference of UFC 286. However, UFC president Dana White instead announced that Colby Covington would be taking on reigning champion Leon Edwards. On top of that, White mentioned the possibility of a future fight between Muhammad and undefeated up-and-comer Shavkat Rakhmonov. This news was a complete surprise to Muhammad, who had never been approached about the Rakhmonov fight before. He has since met with White and the UFC to discuss his future, but no decisions have been made.
Muhammad is not one to shy away from a challenge, but he sees fighting Rakhmonov as taking a step back in the division. He wants to fight other contenders such as Edwards or Covington, who he believes are the only ones above him. If a title fight is off the table, he wants to fight fighters who are champions, former champions, or fighters who are suddenly declared as the number one contenders.
Muhammad believes a showdown with Covington would make the most sense to determine who should get the next title shot against Edwards if Usman is unavailable. With champions only fighting twice per year, Muhammad sees no reason why Covington should wait, especially since he has already been out of action for over a year. Muhammad hopes Edwards sticks to his guns and shuts down Covington, allowing Muhammad to pursue that fight so a legitimate contender could be crowned.