Belal Muhammad, 32 picked up the biggest win of his career at UFC 263 while absolutely shutting down Demian Maia over three rounds.
Muhammad is born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, to Palestinian parents. He has been wrestling since his high school years, fought on the streets a couple of times but never thought of making this a profession.
Belal Muhammad carried the Palestinian flag in every fight
Though UFC often imposes strict rules on the flags fighters can carry out to the octagon. However, Muhammad has been carrying the Palestinian flag in every one of his fights, even before the UFC.
“I’m never going to shy away from represnting my people.”-Belal Muhammad
He is big on representation and hopes by him showcasing his Palestinian identity he can inspire other athletes one day.
Five to six Palestinian kids train with Muhammad, and he wants the young generation to realize that they can be professional athletes and all that is needed is dedication and hard work.
There is a lot of talent hidden in the Middle East, and especially in terms of Arab athletes in the sport, we need to bring more of this talent forward to show younger kids that it is possible to make it UFC.
“For me now, I have a voice for the voiceless, there aren’t a lot of Palestinian athletes that have a stage or platform where they can carry the flag,” Muhammad said.
“Especially, during these times, I need to carry that flag higher than ever and show the world that we do exist, that we are a country, and there are real people there.”
The lack of representation of Arabs has always been a concerning factor. And, with coming together, we need to collectively support Arab in different career paths within media. To continue showing our support.
In fact, according to Muhammad, carrying the flag to his fights is important because it is a reminder to him of his identity and the cause he supports.
Through his action and voice, he aims to use his voice for his people and hopes to “keep shining a light on that, raising their morale, raising their hearts, I’m going to do whatever I can,” he said.