Neither Leon Edwards nor Belal Muhammad walked away from their UFC Fight Night 187 main event a winner.
The five-round welterweight fight didn’t get far as it was stopped at 18 seconds into Round 2 after an accidental eye poke from Edwards (18-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) rendered Muhammad (18-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) unable to continue. Referee Herb Dean deemed the errant thumb unintentional, resulting in a no contest.
The first round saw Edwards stalk Muhammad and land a diverse arsenal of strikes. A hard head kick rattled Muhammad’s equilibrium, but he recovered and never went down.
Before the flow of Round 2 even really got going, Edwards’ thumb entered the right eye of Muhammad, who immediately hit the canvas and writhed in pain. The damage was not just audible to the audience, but visible, too. Muhammad’s eye was bloody and swollen as the doctor examined the fighter.
“Sorry, Belal, brother. Sorry, brother.”@Leon_edwardsmma apologized to @bullyb170 for the accidental eye poke that resulted in their #UFCVegas21 fight being declared a No Decison. pic.twitter.com/f9JtRM7jA8
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 14, 2021
Once Muhammad said he couldn’t see, Dean and the doctor agreed the fight should be waved off – and it was. Muhammad was in tears. Immediately after the conclusion of the bout, Edwards voiced his disappointment.
“First of all, obviously, I apologize for Belal,” Edwards said on the broadcast. “I didn’t mean to do it. I went for the cross-head kick, he stepped in too, and I really apologize. I’d rather a loss than that. I’m just heartbroken. I don’t know what to say.”
Before Saturday, Edwards’ previous fight came in July 2019 when he defeated former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision. Due to injury, sickness, and a pandemic, Edwards had four scheduled fights fall through, which delayed his return.
Prior to the fight, UFC president Dana White said an impressive win would earn Edwards the next crack at welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
For Muhammad, he rode a four-fight winning streak into Saturday, which included victories over Dhiego Lima, Lyman Good, Takashi Sato, and Curtis Millender.
Complete UFC Fight Night 187 results include:
- Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad ends in no contest (accidental eye poke) – Round 2, 0:18
- Ryan Spann def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:11
- Dan Ige def. Gavin Tucker via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 0:22
- Davey Grant def. Jonathan Martinez via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 3:03
- Matheus Nicolau def. Manel Kape via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart declared no contest (illegal knee) – Round 1, 4:37
- Angela Hill def. Ashley Yoder via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Charles Jourdain def. Marcelo Rojo via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:31
- Rani Yahya def. Ray Rodriguez via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:09
- Nasrat Haqparast def. Rafa Garcia via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- J.J. Aldrich def. Cortney Casey via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Jinh Yu Frey def. Gloria de Paula via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Matthew Semelsberger def. Jason Witt via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:16