Muhammad Mokaev isn’t looking back after scoring another impressive win.
The 22-year-old flyweight contender improved to 4-0 in the UFC after submitting Jafel Filho at UFC 286 in a bout that was not without its challenges. A game Filho had Mokaev in danger in several spots throughout their three-round contest, and Mokaev said immediately after the fight that he was also dealing with a shoulder injury.
“If you want, I can send you my scan,” Mokaev said speaking to the media afterwards at The O2 in London. “It was serious. I couldn’t even put my T-shirt on.”
Mokaev showed incredible flexibility and resilience surviving a kneebar attempt from Filho in Round 3, but it was a grappling exchange in Round 1 that had some viewers questioning whether Mokaev pulled a fast one. In a clip circulating on social media, Mokaev appeared to tap out to Filho, perhaps in response to stress on his shoulder.
Mokaev was quick to refute the claim.
“In the first round?” Mokaev asked. “No, no, no. I did make a noise, so he squeezed more, got tight, but I was over his knees. If you look at the full guard, it was quite tight, but it wasn’t, I could still breathe. No, definitely no.”
Currently No. 12 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings at 125 pounds, Mokaev might not crack the top 10 with his latest win, but he already has other up-and-coming flyweights looking to take his spot. Namely, rival Jake Hadley, who was also victorious at UFC 286.
Mokaev was asked about his history with Hadley and if there’s a chance they could fight soon.
“Listen, there’s been talks since 2017,” Mokaev said. “He fought Liam Gittins, Liam Gittins smashed him in an amateur fight for five rounds. Then I dominated Liam Gittins, I think six suplexes I did on Liam Gittins. After this, I was going to fight Jake [for Brave CF]. He asked Brave for 15 and 15 purse. Who is going to give him a 15 and 15 purse?
“He talked s***. If you know Brad Pickett, I came to his gym, booked a hotel from Monday until Saturday, and I came to Dominique Wooding. I said, ‘I know your friend lives in Birmingham. I know your friends with him. I’m here Monday to Saturday, bring him for the sparring.’ He told him this and I was there until Saturday, nobody turned up. I was there on my own without any coach, nothing.”
“To be honest, I want to fight tough guys,” Mokaev later added.” There’s tougher guys. Matheus Nicolau, there’s [Amir] Albazi, there’s top 10. I want to fight hard guys who knock me down, I get up, I want guys like this. Going backwards, he’s exactly [the same level] as Malcolm Gordon. I think that he’s nothing special, but if he enters the top 12, 11, it’s possible.
“But no, I go back again, I beat him, and then they say, ‘You beat Jake Hadley. He’s like a crackhead from Birmingham.’”