Stephen Thompson to Return vs. Belal Muhammad on Dec. 18

Stephen Thompson

UFC welterweight contender Stephen Thompson will look to get back in the thick of things in the 170-pound division against Belal Muhammad. The UFC has reportedly booked the welterweight matchup for a UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas on Dec. 18.

Thompson makes his return to the cage for the first time since falling to Gilbert Burns by unanimous decision at UFC 264. Despite the loss to Burns, he’s won two of his last three against the likes of Geoff Neal and Vicente Luque. Thompson is hoping to earn one last shot at the welterweight title before his career ends, and he’s one of the few top contenders in the division that hasn’t faced Kamaru Usman to this point.

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ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was among the first to break the news on Thursday.

Thompson will face a tough test in Muhammad, who is on a six-fight unbeaten streak and is coming off of arguably the best performance of his career against Demian Maia. He shut down Maia’s grappling en route to a unanimous decision win at UFC 263.

Stephen Thompson looks to avenge his loss to Gilbert Burns at UFC 264

Muhammad had been one of the names involved in the discussion for a short-notice bout against Leon Edwards at the upcoming UFC 269 pay-per-view. Edwards was supposed to face Jorge Masvidal on the card, but Masvidal pulled out due to an undisclosed injury.

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It’s unclear whether or not Edwards will remain on the card, but Muhammad clearly wants an eventual rematch against him. Muhammad fought on short notice earlier this year against Edwards and suffered a nasty eye poke which resulted in the fight being ruled a no-contest. This will easily be Muhammad’s toughest test against Thompson next month.

Thompson has the opportunity to prove that he still deserves to be in the title conversation, while Muhammad is looking to add a big name to his resume in the octagon.

What is your early prediction for Stephen Thompson vs. Belal Muhammad?