Belal Muhammad will be without his long-time head coach, Louis Taylor, for his main event fight with Leon Edwards at UFC Vegas 21 after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Muhammad (18-3) is scheduled to face Leon Edwards (18-3) in a five-round main event at UFC Vegas 21 on Saturday. Muhammad fought just three weeks ago against Dhiego Lima and earned a decision win. He agreed to a quick turnaround after Edwards' initial opponent, Khamzat Chimaev, withdrew due to issues stemming from his COVID-19 infection. At the press conference before UFC 259, Dana White revealed that Leon Edwards and Muhammad couldn't attend the event due to a COVID-19 issue. It's now been revealed that his coach Taylor tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be cleared in time for Saturday's main event, meaning Muhammad will fight without his coach for the first time.
"He's my head coach, he is literally the one who got me into fighting," Muhammad told ESPN. "He was my high school wrestling coach. He brought me from the ground up. He's like my older brother, mentor. He's staying and quarantining out here, just in case I need anything. I'm going to look through his window and put my hand up, keep that energy close."
The plan is to temporarily replace Taylor's presence in the corner with veteran MMA coach Sayif Saud, out of Fortis MMA in Dallas. And Muhammad is hoping that this will be a story they laugh about in the future with Taylor missing the first main event Muhammad has participated in.
"We're not going to sit there and pout about it," Muhammad said. "It's just going to be another chapter in our story. We'll think back and say, 'Man, remember when I lost you on my first main event?'"