Muhammad, a Palestinian-American, has always been outspoken in his support for the country. Throughout his career, he has carried the nation’s flag with him into the octagon and has occasionally draped it over his shoulders during his post-fight interviews.
Since hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated in October, Muhammad has shown his support for Palestinians caught in the middle and has called for a cease fire. He noticed one of his fighting peers was also publicly supporting Palestine, which has led to a friendship with Chimaev.
“For me, it was obviously huge that he was posting about Palestine,” Muhammad told MMA Junkie. “That’s my brother now. Like, if you’re supporting my people, we’re one. It’s all about being a Muslim and when one Muslim’s in pain, one Muslim’s hurting, you should be feeling the same pain, feeling the same hurt. I feel like we’ve got connected off of that.”
Last October, Muhammad called for a fight against Chimaev after picking up a win over Sean Brady at UFC 280. “I’ll fight you at 179.8. I don’t care about weight,” Muhammad told reporters at the post-fight news conference. “For me, I want to fight the best guys in the world.”
That comment came a month after Chimaev missed weight for a scheduled welterweight bout against Nate Diaz, which ended up being a catchweight bout against Kevin Holland after a last-minute shuffle at UFC 279. Chimaev’s future now appears to be at middleweight, which would make a bout against Muhammad even less likely today.
This past October, the two Muslim fighters shared images on Instagram where they jointly displayed a Palestinian flag, effectively ending their desire to meet inside the cage.
Muhammad will serve as the backup for the welterweight title fight between Leon Edwards and Colby Covington at UFC 296. If his services are not needed, hopes to secure a title fight in 2024, along with Chimaev.
“I’m Team Khamzat. I hope he gets the 185-pound title. I hope he gets the title shot and inshallah, next year, it’ll be me at 170 champion, Islam at 155 champion, and Khamzat at 185 champion. We’ll be taking over.”
This story originally appeared on MMA Junkie