Belal Muhammad avenged one of the toughest losses of his career on Saturday night – and reasserted himself as a top welterweight contender in the process. The 33-year-old Chicago native returned to action in the UFC Vegas 51 main event, taking on Brazil’s Vicente Luque. It was Muhammad’s second meeting with the 30-year-old “Silent Assassin” after a 79-second stoppage loss in 2016. The second time around, Muhammad employed a clever game plan to outfight Luque over five rounds for scores of 49-46 (twice) and 48-47 from the cage-side judges. “Let me get the big mouth ‘Karen’, Colby Covington, who’s out here calling out [lightweights],” Muhammad said in his post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier at the UFC Apex. “Come fight a real [welterweight], coward,” In victory, Muhammad (21-3) is on an eight-fight unbeaten streak – the third longest active streak in the UFC’s jam-packed welterweight division. He entered the cage as the UFC’s No 6 ranked welterweight. Having beaten Luque, who was ranked No 5 heading into the match-up, he can expect to crack the top 5 when the rankings are updated on Tuesday. “This was my hump I had to get over,” Muhammad said post-fight. “He knocked me out. Now what do you got to say? I won. I knew it was going to be one of my hardest challenges.” UFC: China’s Heili Alateng scores 47-second win in show opener “It showed that I can do it all. I can wrestle with the best. I can strike with the best. I can grapple with the best.” While Muhammad will leave Las Vegas with a reason to celebrate, his rival will be forced to return to the drawing board. Luque (21-8-1) entered the UFC Vegas 51 main event with wins in his last four fights — including submissions wins over former welterweight king Tyron Woodley and top-10 contender Michael Chiesa. The Brazilian had not lost a fight since a 2019 loss to two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.