UFC 304 fight card: Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad 2, Tom Aspinall vs. Curtis Blaydes 2 set for Manchester

Written by on May 17, 2024

UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards and interim heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall will defend their titles on home soil. Leon Edwards takes on Belal Muhammad in the main event and Aspinall fights Curtis Blaydes in the co-main event at UFC 304 in Manchester on Saturday, July 27.

UFC president Dana White announced the pair of rematches for the English champions on Thursday, plus three additional bouts for the pay-per-view card.

Edwards makes his third welterweight title defense against Muhammad in a rematch of their March 2021 bout. The first meeting between Edwards and Muhammad ended in a disappointing no contest after an accidental eye poke by Edwards just 18 seconds into the second round. Edwards entered that fight having won eight consecutive fights, marking the first time he entered the Octagon and left without his hand raised since December 2015.

Edwards followed up the no contest with a decision win over Nate Diaz that secured him his first shot at UFC gold, a shot that was years in the making. Despite being dominated for much of the UFC 278 fight by longtime champion Kamaru Usman, Edwards made good on his opportunity when he scored a head kick knockout with just 56 seconds left in the final round.

Edwards successfully defended his title with a good showing in the rematch with Usman at UFC 286 before picking up his second successful defense with a one-sided decision against Colby Covington.

Muhammad shares a similar path to a title shot with Edwards. For years, Muhammad has been a legitimate title contender without receiving an opportunity while less deserving men — such as Covington — were given shots at the championship.

Setting aside the no contest due to an eye poke in the first meeting with Edwards, Muhammad has won nine straight trips to the Octagon, including wins over four former title challengers. His last loss came in January 2019.

In his most recent fight, Muhammad picked up a huge victory, dominating Gilbert Burns for a decision in the five-round co-main event of UFC 288.

Aspinall makes the first defense of the interim heavyweight title he beat Sergei Pavlovich for on short notice at UFC 295 in November. Aspinall has repeatedly called to unify his title with heavyweight champion Jon Jones. The UFC is steadfast that Jones will make his first title defense against former champion Stipe Miocic, a fight that’s taken years to come together. Aspinall concedes and takes another fight while the seemingly endless Jones-Miocic saga plays out. Aspinall is only the fourth fighter in UFC history to defend an interim title, joining Andrei Arlovski, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Renan Barao.

Blaydes is the only person to defeat Aspinall in the last eight years but that doesn’t tell the full story. Aspinall suffered a knee injury 15 seconds into a Fight Night headliner against Blaydes. The challenger has been on the precipice of a title shot for six years but always fell short when it counted most. UFC 304 is a long time coming for Blaydes, who most recently beat Jailton Almeida.

The other fights announced are Bobby Green vs. Paddy Pimblett, Muhammad Mokaev vs. Manel Kape and Arnold Allen vs. Giga Chikadze. Expectations are that trash talk will be at an all-time high when Green and Pimblett get their hands on microphones. Mokaev and Kape could produce a flyweight title challenger and Allen vs. Chikadze is a matchup between strong featherweight contenders. 

The post UFC 304 fight card: Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad 2, Tom Aspinall vs. Curtis Blaydes 2 set for Manchester first appeared on CBS Sports.

Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Current track