Muhammad Mokaev continued his unbeaten streak with a miraculous win over debutant Jafel Filho at UFC 286 in London. ‘The Punisher’ is one of the most highly-regarded projects in the sport having amassed an extensive, unblemished amateur record before going 9-0 as a pro.
This was his fourth outing inside the octagon and was a his first taste of real adversity. The youngster lives in Manchester but has spent the majority of his time training at Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand in recent months.
Having gotten the better of the battle on the ground in the opening two rounds, Mokaev went for another takedown in the third. Inside half a minute, the Brace CF veteran had taken Filho’s back and went for a rear naked choke.
The Brazilian resisted and was able to scramble. As Mokaev went to re-apply the choke Filho was able to grab his leg and lock in a knee bar.
The submission was deep and looked extremely painful. Incredibly, Mokaev refused to tap and having held off for more than a minute he took advantage of his opponent’s fatigue to get on top before working to the back and locking in the rear naked choke.
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The finish came at the 4:32 mark and was his fifth pro submission win. Clearly in pain and hobbling on one leg Mokaev, who is now 10-0, said during his post-fight presser,
“He look at me and then Herb Dean said ‘he didn’t tap’. In my head I was waiting till my knee rips. In my head I was like ‘it’s nearly coming out’ and then when I stand on the knee, I’m like ‘my knee gone’.”
Mokaev then added of the submission,
“I grab him, in my head I was talking, I broke his heart. He didn’t finish me in a position where he’s like black belt, I’m not black belt. I broke him. Yes (I was willing to damage my knee) because I know I’m resting, next month Ramadhan in three, four days. I gonna rest. So I don’t want to rest with having tapped. I’m not gonna sleep for thirty days, you know.”
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The night was not so successful for Mokaev’s Tiger Muay Thai teammate Rafael Fiziev who lost a majority decision to Justin Gaethje. ‘The Highlight’ came out on top using his leg kicks to devastating effect as well as solid jabs and uppercuts as the English fans were treated to a memorable war that was duly awarded ‘Fight of the Night.’
Gaethje’s record climbs to 24-4. Fiziev sees his six fight winning streak snapped and slips to 12-2.
Marvin Vettori is another who spent time preparing in The Land of Smiles having sparred with Superbon as well as visiting AKA Thailand and Tiger. The Italian returned to winning a majority decision against Roman Dolidze to take his record to 19-5-1.
UFC 286, London, March 19th
Leon Edwards (c) def. Kamaru Usman via Decision (Majority)
Justin Gaethje def. Rafael Fiziev via Decision (Majority)
Gunnar Nelson def. Bryan Barberena via Submission (Armbar) at 4:51 of R1
Jennifer Maia def. Casey O’Neill via Decision (Unanimous)
Marvin Vettori def. Roman Dolidze via Decision (Unanimous)
Jack Shore def. Makwan Amirkhani via Submission (Rear-naked choke) at 4:27 of R2
Chris Duncan def. Omar Morales via Decision (Split)
Yanal Ashmoz def. Sam Patterson via KO (Punches) at 1:15 of R1
Muhammad Mokaev def. Jafel Filho via Submission (Neck crank) at 4:32 of R3
Lerone Murphy def. Gabriel Santos via Decision (Split)
Christian Leroy Duncan def. Duško Todorović via TKO (Knee injury) at 1:52 of R1
Jake Hadley def. Malcolm Gordon via TKO (Punches) at 1:01 of R1
Joanne Wood def. Luana Carolina via Decision (Split)
Jai Herbert vs. Ľudovít Klein via Draw (Majority)
Veronica Hardy def. Juliana Miller via Decision (Unanimous)