Mokaev, refugee-turned MMA fighter, set for UFC debut

The ‘Punisher,’ with a brilliant professional record of 6-0 and 30-0 overall, is confident about nailing his American opponent in UFC London at the O2 Arena



Muhammad Mokaev Twitter
Muhammad Mokaev Twitter
by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 18 Mar 2022, 6:46 PM

Last updated: Fri 18 Mar 2022, 6:48 PM

MMA fighter Muhammad Mokaev is ready to punch above his weight.

The 21-year-old has come a long way after arriving in the UK as a refugee from Russia’s Dagestan when he was just 12. And on Saturday, he will make his big bang UFC debut in the flyweight category against an experienced Cody Durden, on a 12-3 win-loss run.

The ‘Punisher,’ with a brilliant professional record of 6-0 and 30-0 overall, is confident about nailing his American opponent in UFC London at the O2 Arena.

“I think going through the toughness of life has helped me stay focused and mentally sharp in the head and outside of fighting too because I have a lot going on outside of MMA. But it keeps me hungry and motivated to stay focused,” Mokaev told Khaleej Times.

Mokaev seeks to become the youngest UFC champion ever and inspire refugees around the world. He targets Jon Jones’ record, who was 23 years and 242 days old when he defeated Mauricio Rua to claim the light heavyweight title.

“I think nobody has done this in history. I will be the first one, I believe. I think it’s something that is hard to do. And when I do this, it will be a source of huge motivation for all refugees, not just in the UK, but around the world. But not just refugees, people that might not have enough funding and support,” said Mokaev who once survived on £5 as benefits in Wigan.

After securing citizenship, he is now looking forward to stepping inside the octagon as a British fighter.

“I have a big fan base in the UK. It’s a great place to make a debut. And then I can go get my food where I’m used to. I know the places to eat. It feels like I’m home.”

And Mokaev believes he can take on any fighter in the division.

“I have to finish this guy then get a top 15 opponent, and maybe a top 10 guy. I believe they’re all beatable. They’re all there to get beaten. The division is good, strong, don’t get me wrong, but they’re all past peak performance. Most of them are aged 33 to 35, and they don’t have the same hunger as me, so I need to finish this fight and then I’ll get back after Ramadan.”

Mokaev is keen on making an appearance in Abu Dhabi — new home for the UFC.

“During my three months of training camp in Bahrain, I thought if UFC London gets cancelled, I’m ready to fly over to Abu Dhabi. I was there for the world championships, and I was at Yas Mall, and I could see the Etihad Arena from there, and I was thinking ‘maybe it could happen here’.”

UFC Fight Night 204 starts from 9 pm on Saturday.


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