- What: UFC 288 pay-per-view fight card
- Co-Main Event: Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns
- Date: Saturday, May 6, 2023
- Location: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey
- Time: Early Prelims (6:00 p.m. ET), Prelims (8:00 p.m. ET) Main Card (10:00 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Early Prelims (ESPN+), Prelims (ESPN+). Main Card (ESPN+ pay-per-view)
On Saturday, UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling puts his belt on the line against former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo. That fight headlines the UFC 288 pay-per-view card, which streams on ESPN+. In the co-main event, No. 4 ranked UFC welterweight Belal Muhammad faces No. 5 ranked Gilbert Burns. A strong performance could move the winner past the No. 2 ranked UFC 170-pounder Colby Covington and secure a fight against UFC champion Leon Edwards. Edwards is coming off a March title defense over the No. 1 ranked Kamaru Usman. Here is some background on the card’s co-main event fighters before we discuss, in detail, the betting breakdown of the Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns matchup.
The 34-year-old Muhammad has been climbing the welterweight ranks since his most recent loss, a 2019 decision setback to Geoff Neal. Muhammad is unbeaten in his past nine fights. His most recent victory was an October TKO win over Sean Brady.
Burns, who lost a February 2021 title fight to Usman, is 9-2 dating back to December 2018. His other loss was an April 2022 decision setback to the surging Khamzat Chimaev. Burns is coming off an April 8, 2023, decision win over Jorge Masvidal.
UFC 288 co-main event: Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns betting picks
|To Win UFC 288 Co-Main Event|
Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns betting breakdown
This fight came together on short notice. As a result, there was some talk that Belal Muhammad wanted the contest to take place at middleweight. That fact could be a concern for those leaning toward Muhammad as he is likely to spend the bulk of his time leading up to this fight focused on his weight cut rather than his preparation for Gilbert Burns‘ style. However, I don’t think that will take away from Muhammad come fight night.
These two use a very similar style. While they can both handle themselves on the feet, where they excel is on the ground. Muhammad is among the better welterweights in gaining takedowns and racking up ground control time. In his two fights before he knocked out Brady, Muhammad had a total of 12 takedowns and control time of nearly 19:30. As for Burns, he is more aggressive on the mat, looking for submissions rather than control and ground strikes. In his past two outings, Burns had five takedowns and more than eight minutes of control time.
With that being said, this could turn into a striking battle. In his bout with Chimaev, who is an excellent grappler in his own right, Burns landed a career-high 119 significant strikes. Muhammad is also comfortable standing. His career-high in significant strikes came against Dhiego Lima when he landed 129. Muhammad also attempted 209 significant strikes against Brady in a fight that did not enter the third round.
Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns statistical breakdown
These men are very similar in size and reach. Muhammad checks in one inch taller than the 5-foot-10 Burns, and his 72-inch reach is one inch more than Burns. As for striking stats, Muhammad lands 4.47 significant strikes per minute, which is higher than Burns’ 3.38, but Burns lands at a 47 percent rate, which is better than Muhammad’s 42 percent. In defensive striking, Muhammad gets hit, on average, 3.68 times per minute, while Burns absorbs an average of 3.13 significant strikes per minute.
As mentioned above, Muhammad and Burns are similar in their grappling styles. They are also similar in their grappling stats. Muhammad scores 2.19 takedowns per 15 minutes, which is just a bit above Burns’ 2.16. Meanwhile, Burns has a 37 percent takedown accuracy rate, which is higher than Muhammad’s 35 percent. Takedown defense is a bit misleading when it comes to Burns, as he is comfortable fighting off his back. With that, he defends 47 percent of his opponent’s takedown attempts, while Muhammad stops 92 percent.
Best UFC 288 bets
The betting odds for the UFC 288 co-main event are close. That makes sense because Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns are evenly matched. One prop bet to consider for this fight is the length of the bout. Because they are so close in style and approach, the best prop bet for UFC 288 is to pick the fight to go the distance.
When it comes down betting on the fight itself, the best bet is to pick Gilbert Burns to win via decision. He is the more well-rounded fighter, and he is more active in the striking department as well as when the fight hits the mat. As a result, Burns has more ways to score points and pick up the win on the scorecards.
Best UFC 288 co-main event betting pick: Gilbert Burns to beat Belal Muhammad via decision.
See below a list of reliable sportsbooks and choose the best one for you.