Son of Dagestan and Pride of Manchester: Muhammad Mokaev Joins the UFC

In November, the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that two-time International Mixed Martial Arts Federation titleholder Muhammad Mokaev had been added to its flyweight division. The Dagestan-born but England-raised Mokaev gained some notoriety after scoring 23 straight victories as an amateur, against no defeats. “The Punisher” made his professional debut on Aug. 1, 2020, and has competed in seven fights since, earning six wins and a no-contest. The combined record of his opponents is 25 wins and 26 defeats, slightly under 50%. Still, Mokaev brings a lot of hype for the path that led him to become the youngest signee on UFC roster. The promotion announced this week that Mokaev will debut against Cody Durden at an upcoming Fight Night on March 19 in London.

Before his pro debut, Mokaev released an interview with Sherdog where he talked about his upbringing, his goal to become the youngest champion ever in Brave Combat Federation, and his dream match with former UFC 125-pound titleholder and current One Championship marquee fighter Demetrious Johnson. Apparently, Brave struggled to find an opponent for Mokaev before Glenn McVeigh stepped up on short notice at Brave CF 37. Mokaev overwhelmed his Northern Irish opponent with his wrestling for all three rounds and came very close to finishing McVeigh in the third frame after landing a vicious elbow. Ultimately, Mokaev took home a unanimous decision.

In his first pro fight, rising star Mokaev displayed an on-point grappling game, but there was some ground to cover in striking. “The Punisher” had the chance to show improvements on the feet when he took on English journeyman Hayden Sherriff in the main event of Celtic Gladiator 27. That time, Mokaev scored an easy first-round TKO victory, considering that his opponent offered almost no resistance.

After overcoming Jamie Kelly via third-round submission and forcing Dave Jones to tap to strikes in the opening frame, Mokaev faced the first real test of his career in Abdul Hussein at Brave CF 49. There was a lot of curiosity surrounding the match, as both Mokaev and Finland’s Hussein were regarded as 125-pound prospects. The pair delivered a hard-fought contest, splitting the first two rounds. In the end, Mokaev’s technique and tenacity proved outweighed his opponent’s offense and he imposed his will on Hussein in the third frame. Mokaev took a unanimous decision with 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 nods from the judges.

Mokaev’s next cage appearance resulted in a disappointing no-contest at Brave CF 51. After 2 minutes, 34 seconds, Mokaev accidentally landed a groin kick, and his opponent Ibragim Navruzov was unable to continue.

Mokaev again had the chance to shine in the co-headliner of Brave CF 54, where he faced Blaine O'Driscoll at a 130-pound catchweight. As always, “The Punisher” put his relentless wrestling to work, taking his opponent down early in Round 1 and capturing his back. Much to everyone’s surprise, O’Driscoll fought his way out of the sticky situation and surged back to his feet to stop another takedown attempt with a knee to his opponent’s head. Mokaev looked a bit tired at the end of the first frame, but kept pushing forward in Round 2 nevertheless. His tenacity was rewarded after scoring with a beautiful spinning back elbow that stunned his opponent, allowing Mokaev to jump on his back seconds later. After capturing the favorable position, Mokaev squeezed a tight rear-naked choke and O’Driscoll tapped at the 1:36 mark.



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