Edwards vs. Muhammad II Predictions | UFC 304 Picks

by | Last updated Jul 12, 2024 | mma

UFC 304: Edwards vs. Muhammad II Picks
When: Saturday, July 27, 2024
Where: Co-op Live, Manchester, England

Leon Edwards returns to his home country of England to defend his UFC Welterweight Title against Belal Muhammad in Manchester in the UFC 304 main event. Edwards has taken over the welterweight division and perhaps already stands as the country’s most accomplished MMA fighter in history. However, just before winning the belt, Edwards fought Muhammad with an eye-poke early in the second round, rendering Muhammad unable to continue. With Muhammad having won all his bouts since a title shot is due, and he looks to settle the score with his old nemesis with all the marbles on the line.

Fight Analysis

Leon Edwards, 22-3 (7 KOs, 3 Submissions), (-200) vs. Belal Muhammad, 23-1 (5 KOs, 1 Submission), (+165)—Odds by Bovada
Leon Edwards makes the third defense of his UFC 170-pound belt against Belal Muhammad in a rematch. A lot has happened since their March 2021 fight and with it barely lasting more than a round with the abbreviated no-contest finish, it might be foolhardy to use what happened as ammo for this fight. In addition, a lot has since occurred, and it’s fair to say each man has grown in stature, with neither tasting defeat since that fight took place. And let’s not forget each man came into that fight with a winning streak. Combined, these guys have gone their last 23 fights without a loss, a remarkable figure considering the parity at the top levels in the UFC.

A proponent of the champion would like to see a continuation of their first fight, short as it was. Edwards looked a little sharper and more on-point. His quick feet, coupled with his straight and sudden shots, seemed to have Muhammad a bit flummoxed. He even hurt Muhammad with a big head kick. He seemed quicker and appeared very collected in defending Muhammad’s more-looping striking attempts. And when Muhammad managed to close distance and grab a hold of Edwards, the champion’s leverage and strength kept him from being dragged into a ground war.

Muhammad was certainly buzzed from an Edwards kick and appeared a beat or two slow, but that was also several years ago, and it’s not like he was lost in there. He was able to close well and get a hold of Edwards without too much trouble and the few times he found his timing, he was able to zing some dangerous-looking strikes in there that could have done damage. And let’s not forget the eye-poke that ended the fight wasn’t the first one of the fight. In other words, Muhammad was up against a lot that night.

The problem for Muhammad is he is also up against a lot on this night. Fighting in Edwards’ country and now taking on a version of Edwards who has brushed aside the top dogs in the division, building up his confidence and skills along the way. The same sharpness we saw against Muhammad in ’21 is still there, but he just smoothed out the rough edges, such as the propensity to foul, which torpedoed the first fight between these two 170-pounders.

While both are top fighters, with each man having gone a long time since tasting defeat, neither man is much of a finisher. Edwards’ biggest win, when he won the title from Kamaru Usman, is one of the more memorable title fight KOs in UFC history, but it is also Edwards’ only stoppage win in his last eight fights. Muhammad, meanwhile, only has five knockouts and a single submission among his 23 wins. Since his first win in the UFC in 2016, he has scored just two stoppage wins.

Therefore, if Muhammad hopes to win here, barring a bolt from beyond, he’s going to need to win a battle of attrition against a man who has spent the time since their first fight thriving in late-round situations like nobody’s business. Muhammad has won a few five-rounders in some nice main event wins, but this is a different level against a fighter who doesn’t falter late and whose stamina is above reproach. And if looking for a threat to unseat a fighter of Edwards’ skill, you’d prefer to choose a fighter with some finishing ability, as opposed to a fighter like Muhammad, who is more of a grinder, effective as he is.

I don’t have a giant problem with those who forecast Muhammad will use his doggedness and stamina to stay on top of Edwards, sponging his best offerings while eventually grinding down the champion with his strength and persistence. Of his three losses, only one was a stoppage, with Muhammad getting stopped on punches very early in his MMA career. With Edwards not being a frequent provider of KOs, you’d figure Muhammad would be there for the duration, and 25 minutes with him is no picnic where a lot of things can go wrong.

I see Edwards using his championship-mettle to engineer a clean performance with a sharp strategy against Muhammad. Edwards is a little longer and a crisper striker where some distance and nimble footwork can help him determine the battle lines of this fight. Combine that with the straighter trajectory of his strikes, along with his greater speed, Edwards can pick up where he left off in their first fight, where he’s the one getting off first and forcing his opponent into more of a reactive role. It won’t be easy, but I see Edwards generally outmaneuvering Muhammad and winning a clear decision. I’ll take the champion in this one.

My Pick to Win:

I’m betting on Leon Edwards at -200 betting odds. I think the Bovada line (They offer a 75% bonus up to $750 if you use Bitcoin to deposit!) offers some upside on a proven champion who has some matchup edges on an opponent who is capable and tough but not altogether dangerous or explosive.

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