Photo Causes Possible Concern for Upcoming UFC 288 Co-Main Event

Belal Muhammad, Dana White and Gilbert Burns

UFC (L-R) Belal Muhammad, Dana White and Gilbert Burns

A photo featuring one-half of the UFC 288 co-main event, Belal Muhammad, has been making its rounds on social media. And if the photo hasn’t been doctored, it’s a cause for concern.

CBS Sports’ Shakiel Mahjouri shared a photo on Twitter of Muhammad standing in front of a green screen during fight week, and he’s sporting what appears to be an extremely swollen ankle. As Mahjouri noted, it’s unclear if the image has been altered. See the photo below via the embedded tweet:

Now, some pointed out that his ankle appeared normal later in the week. Sharing a photo of “Remember the Name” at the official weigh-in ceremony on Friday, one user tweeted: “It looked fine here so I wonder what’s going on.” See below:

Muhammad and Gilbert Burns took the five-round duel on short notice. After the original co-headliner for the Newark fight card featuring lightweights Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush was postponed, the two top-ranked welterweights stepped up to fill the slot with around two weeks’ notice.

Muhammad or Burns Can Earn a Title Fight With a Victory on Saturday Night

UFC President Dana White confirmed at the UFC 288 pre-fight conference that the winner will receive the next crack at 170-pound gold behind Colby Covington.

Muhammad is currently ranked No. 4 according to the UFC’s official standings, and Durinho is right behind him at No. 5. Although nothing is officially on the calendar, the UFC boss has stated on multiple occasions that welterweight champion Leon Edwards’ second title defense will be against “Chaos” later this year.

“You look at these two guys, where they sit in the rankings, to come out and risk everything the way that they are so that they can be in line for a title shot is huge,” White told The Schmo after the press conference. “And I love guys like this. Both these guys are savages.”

Muhammad on Why He Accepted the Short-Notice Fight: ‘That’s All They Need to Tell Me’

Muhammad spoke with Mahjouri ahead of his May 6 clash with Burns. And he explained why taking the match with Burns, who defeated Jorge Masvial around a month ago inside the Octagon, was worth risking his nine-fight unbeaten streak.

“There’s always that moment where you’re like, ‘Is it really worth it? What am I getting? What am I gaining from it?’ I don’t need a fight,” Muhammad said. “I’m on an eight-fight winning streak. I don’t need to take a two-week notice fight to fight a guy who is No. 5 in the world who just had a camp. He has everything to gain from it. I’m ranked higher than him. He just had a camp and didn’t get injured in his fight. It was an easy fight for him. People can say, ‘Gilbert Burns is the man.’ But I’m like, ‘Bro, he just beat Neil Magny easily and in one round. Then he beat Masvidal pretty easily.’

“That’s every fighter’s dream to have two fights off of one camp. That’s the money shot right there. That’s the best. For me, it’s like, ‘What am I gaining from it?’ It’s not about monetary value for me. It’s about the gold. Is this going to be the one that’s going to give me the gold next? Is it the one that’s going to get me the title shot?

“That’s all they needed to tell me. If my next fight is going to be for the title, then I’m 100% in.”

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