UFC 288 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns: How to Bet a Volatile Co-main Event (Saturday, May 6)

UFC 288 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns: How to Bet a Volatile Co-main Event (Saturday, May 6) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Belal Muhammad

Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns Odds

Muhammad Odds
Burns Odds
Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey
11:30 p.m. ET
ESPN+ Pay-per-view
Odds as of Thursday and via BetMGM

The UFC 288 co-main event on Saturday features an impromptu fight between ranked welterweights Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns.

Both men have been heavily campaigning for a title shot over the past calendar year, and it appears that the UFC brass is finally granting their wishes.

Well. Kind of.

Like many deserved contenders who don't quite hit traditional UFC marketing standards, fighters such as Muhammad and Burns tend to find themselves on slightly longer roads that involve fighting similarly circumstanced opposition at the UFC's convenience (e.g. Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush).

Nevertheless, the winner of this ESPN+ pay-per-view co-headliner – regardless of who or how – will be guaranteed a title shot from the promotion.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time13:4111:27
Weight (pounds)170 lbs.170 lbs.
Reach (inches)72"71"
Date of birth7/9/19887/20/1986
Sig Strikes Per Min4.473.38
SS Accuracy42%47%
SS Absorbed Per Min3.683.13
SS Defense58%54%
Take Down Avg2.192.16
TD Acc35%37%
TD Def92%47%
Submission Avg0.20.6

Both men are very well-rounded fighters at this point in their careers, but I believe their wrestling could be key from a stylistic perspective.

Burns may have spent the better part of the last decade improving his striking under the care of Henri Hooft in South Florida, but the 37-year-old has been self-admittedly trending back to his grappling base with the help of Greg Jones and company.

An accoladed American wrestler, Jones has helped Burns harness his newfound physicality in the form of takedowns. Whether Burns is shooting in the open or stepping around for a finish, the third-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is a force to be reckoned with.

Gilbert Burns is exceptional at grappling pic.twitter.com/UddhZpT72b

— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) April 4, 2023

That said, secured takedowns can be hard to come by when you have to get them on Muhammad.

Aside from Muhammad's strong and stout stature, the Palestinian-American demonstrates excellent balance whenever opponents get in on a single. And against the cage, Muhammad's wrestling base really shines through in the fundamental, step-by-step nature of his defense.

Muhammad is also not beyond shooting his own shots in order to break up the pressure, but I'm not sure how eager or early he'll be looking to grapple with Burns.

Should this fight stay standing, then I suspect that the story will be Muhammad's volume versus Burns' leg kicks and counters.

Belal can do it ALL 👊@BullyB170 bringing these hands to #UFC288 on Saturday!

[ 10pmET / 7pmPT | LIVE on ESPN+ PPV | @Visit_NJ#VisitNJ ] pic.twitter.com/xWoljVGWdt

— UFC (@ufc) May 3, 2023

Muhammad also throws leg kicks at a decent clip, but the weight of his stance can sometimes make it hard for him to defend returns in that department.

Even though Burns' left hook will be extra live given his opposition's history of eating left-sided strikes, the Brazilian will still need to mind the counter crosses and lead-hand checks that will probably be coming back his way.

Muhammad vs. Burns Pick

The oddsmakers and public are slightly favoring the Brazilian fighter and list Burns -135 and Muhammad +110.

Between this bout being put together on roughly 12 days' notice to the fact that both men have been keeping completely different schedules, this is an incredibly volatile fight to wager on.

Hell, even from a stylistic standpoint, this can be a tricky one to call – particularly from a totals perspective.

Despite being tempted to take a stab on the under at plus money, each fighter has seemingly gotten only more durable as both their careers and competition have progressed.

Don't get me wrong: Burns is a potent finisher with stellar submission skills, so no one should be shocked if he's able to secure a club-and-sub in the first half of the fight.

However, if Burns isn't able to find a finish on the mat or reliably hurt Muhammad on the feet, then I'm not sure the Brazilian will be able to match the work rate of the Chicago native down the stretch.

I also don't like that Burns has been on a bit of a Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone kick with his insane activity this year, so don't be surprised if we see some sort of drop-off for Burns on Saturday night.

For that reason, I'll probably end up taking a small shot on the more process-based fighter in Muhammad if I can find him at a decent plus number.

The Pick: Belal Muhammad (+110 at BetMGM)

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