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“I always get the respect of fighters and coaches and I love the messages I get from them because they know how good I am,” said the engaging Muhammad, who has become a must-follow on social media over the course of his rise in the rankings. “They understand the sport, they see the style and the effort that I bring, the different techniques I bring to the cage.

“That’s all I really care about is the respect of my peers,” he added. “As long as I have that, nothing else really matters.”

He indeed has that, and with a victory over Edwards this weekend, he’ll have a lot more.

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The talented 29-year-old hailing from the West Midlands by way of Kingston, Jamaica arrives in Las Vegas on an eight-fight winning streak, but is set to compete for the first time since the summer of 2019. Last year, the coronavirus scuttled a March date against former champion Tyron Woodley before he spent the previous several months tethered to Chimaev in a star-crossed matchup that was announced and delayed a number of times before the promotion was finally forced to move on from the pairing this time around.

“There are a lot of people out there talking about ‘What does Leon have to gain from this?’ and yada yada yada, but he’s got everything to gain from this — he’s been out for so long,” he said of this weekend’s main event matchup.

“This isn’t No. 3 versus No. 13 — this is a guy that is on an eight-fight winning streak versus a guy that has won eight of his last nine. That’s how the old UFC worked when there were no rankings. There would be no problem with this fight; people would be loving this fight.

“I want these top fights,” continued Muhammad, who was ready to step in for either half of the UFC 258 title fight should either champion Kamaru Usman or challenger Gilbert Burns not been able to compete that evening. “I want to be in there with top guys.


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