Two-time IMMAF amateur world champion and undefeated pro prospect Muhammad Mokaev is all set to make his UFC debut on Saturday night at UFC London, and the highly-touted flyweight said he’s ready to make a statement against a notable opponent from the very start.
Mokaev is set to face Cody Durden, a gritty three-fight UFC veteran who is coming off a unanimous decision victory over China’s Aoriqileng last November.
Durden’s performance was a strong one, but his post-fight comments didn’t endear him to many watching, including Mokaev, who made clear his desire to face the American on his UFC debut. The UFC granted that request, and now Mokaev is ready for a tough test on his octagon debut.
Speaking to reporters about Durden’s last fight, Mokaev explained, “I actually watched this fight live.
“I always watch the flyweights and the bantamweights and I was speaking to my manager at the same time while we’re watching, I’m like, “Let’s get this guy next,” while the fight was on. Then he made this comment after the interview and I’m like, “Let’s destroy this guy.”
“Also, I like to fight somebody experienced in the UFC – this is his fourth fight – instead of fighting somebody debuting (or) guys that are on a losing streak. I like to prove the point straight away and climb up the rankings.”
Despite being just 21 years of age, Mokaev has a boatload of competitive experience. He went undefeated as an amateur in 22 bouts, as he picked up a string of titles, including two IMMAF world championships.
He then transitioned to the pro ranks with BRAVE CF, where he picked up four pro victories, plus another with Irish promotion Celtic Gladiator. That fast start to his professional career soon caught the UFC’s interest, and they signed Mokaev to a deal in 2021. The following day, Mokaev received his British passport as the former Dagestani refugee became an official British citizen.
Now Mokaev, who was always proud to compete under the British flag as an amateur, is looking to make an impact as a Brit on the biggest stage in the sport, and he said his experience in the amateur ranks will stand him in good stead against Durden, who he described as a “simple fighter.”
“I fought four to five times in five days in a row with different kinds of fighters, the best in the world back in amateur,” he explained.
“I believe there’s some tough kids out there. And he’s not something different than any other (fighter). He’s got two legs, two arms and a head – nothing special.
“To be honest, pressure-wise, I think I’ve gone past this since my amateur debut. It’s always been like this (with) media (and) travelling around the world. I think I visited most most countries. I even fought in Australia on my own without coaches. The most pressure is in the (training) camp, to not get injured and make weight, to be professional. But this is part of the job I have to do. No pressure at all.”
Mokaev knows he’s arriving in the UFC with a fair amount of hype following his amateur successes. And, while he remains supremely confident in his abilities, he said the onus is firmly on him to produce the goods in the octagon to prove to the UFC brass that he’s ready to move up swiftly to challenge the division’s best.
“It’s not about your record. It’s about your charisma, (how) you sell the fight, the views, the everything, you know?” he said.
“When I put the finish on that (fight) night, the UFC will give me top 15 guys.”