Belal Muhammad's coach to miss fight vs. Leon Edwards due to positive COVID-19 test

UFC welterweight Belal Muhammad's first appearance in a main event will have to come without his longtime coach and mentor Louis Taylor, due to Taylor's positive COVID-19 test.

Muhammad (18-3) is scheduled to face Leon Edwards (18-3) in a five-round headliner at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas. Muhammad picked up a decision win over Dhiego Lima just three weeks ago on Feb. 13. He agreed to a quick turnaround after Edwards' initial opponent, Khamzat Chimaev, withdrew due to medical reasons.

Muhammad, of Chicago, and his team flew to Las Vegas last week for a scheduled news conference with Edwards, but were ultimately unable to attend after Taylor's positive result. They have already been informed that Taylor will not be cleared in time for Saturday's main event, meaning Muhammad will fight without his coach for the first time.

"He's my head coach, he is literally the one who got me into fighting," Muhammad told ESPN. "He was my high school wrestling coach. He brought me from the ground up. He's like my older brother, mentor. He's staying and quarantining out here, just in case I need anything. I'm going to look through his window and put my hand up, keep that energy close."

Muhammad began his amateur mixed martial arts career in 2010 and turned pro in 2012. He said he has never fought without Taylor in his corner.

The plan is to temporarily replace Taylor's presence in the corner with veteran MMA coach Sayif Saud, out of Fortis MMA in Dallas. Muhammad said he's not concerned by Taylor's absence in the corner and has worked with Saud during past visits to Dallas.

"We're not going to sit there and pout about it," Muhammad said. "It's just going to be another chapter in our story. We'll think back and say, 'Man, remember when I lost you on my first main event?'"

Edwards, of Birmingham, England, is currently riding an eight-fight winning streak and is the UFC's No. 3-ranked welterweight contender. Muhammad, meanwhile, is ranked No. 13 in the UFC rankings, so an upset win would catapult him up the weight class.