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Belal Muhammad comfortable in UFC, ready to announce himself as true contender


SYDNEY – Belal Muhammad wants you to start taking his nickname literally.

“Remember the Name” is how the 29-year-old Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) gets introduced when he fights, and that’s precisely what he hopes you’ll start doing after his welterweight fight against Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 121.

“The welterweight division is one of the top divisions right now and it’s bringing a lot of attention,” Muhammad told MMAjunkie this week in Sydney. “You’ve got all of them talking about different guys right now and I just want to add another name to that mix where you’re like, ‘Goddamn, we’ve got another one, too.'”

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass. The Muhammad-Means fight is part of the main card.

The expectation is that Muhammad’s fight with Means should be a barnburner – the kind of scrap that gets each guy an extra $50,000 for “Fight of the Night.” But it’s not the fight that was supposed to happen this weekend.

Muhammad was booked to fight recent “Ultimate Fighter” winner Jesse Taylor on the card, but Taylor popped for a potential USADA doping violation and was yanked from the fight. A month ago, Muhammad got his replacement: Means.

And that replacement was one he welcomed.

“We usually train everything, anyway, no matter what – I’m always training to fight the best guy,” Muhammad said. “Against Jesse Taylor, he wasn’t going to be able to take me down. He’s just a big wrestler, so I wasn’t really worried about it. That was an easier fight for me. I was happy with that fight. So when I got Tim Means, it’s a size difference. That’s the only thing I’m worried about. I went from a shorter guy to a taller guy. That’s the only thing I’m really thinking about. I wasn’t really worried about his grappling or his striking because I’m good everywhere. I can strike with anybody and I can grapple with anybody.

“… He’s definitely a fun fighter. I always watched him. I liked watching him when he was coming up – he always brings a fight.”

And if Means indeed brings it, as more than a 2-1 favorite, and Muhammad can pull off an upset for his third straight win, that “Remember the Name” thing is going to start to become all the more natural for people.

Muhammad has either been favored or just a mild underdog in all his UFC fights so far. Seeing Means around -250 as the favorite and Muhammad at +170 as the ‘dog is new territory. But the more he fights, the easier that walk becomes, and the more confidence he brings to a fight against someone as established as Means.

“I’m just getting more comfortable in there,” he said. “I’m feeling more at home now in the UFC cage and getting more acclimated to everything. I just feel like I belong now. Before, you’d be like, ‘I’m in the UFC,’ and you think about it and you’re scared about it. But now, it’s just another day in the office.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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