UFC's rising star Muhammad Mokaev finds himself facing an unexpected roadblock on his path to greatness.
Despite an impressive undefeated record and a promising start to his UFC career, Mokaev is frustrated with the lack of ranked opponents willing to face him. The 22-year-old fighter has set his sights on becoming the youngest champion in UFC history, but his aspirations are being hindered by the reluctance of his peers.
Mokaev's recent victory over Jafel Filho in March was marred by a partial MCL tear, but that hasn't dampened his determination. He is eager to return to action and is eyeing either the upcoming London card in July or UFC 292 in Boston on August 19th.
However, his inability to secure a fight against a ranked flyweight has put a damper on his plans, leaving him frustrated and eager for a breakthrough opportunity.
“It’s very, very hard at the moment,” Mokaev said on the “Believe You Me” podcast. “When I wasn’t ranked, I beat Cody Durden in under 50 seconds and after that, I beat LFA champion Charles Johnson, Malcolm Gordon, Jafel Filho, who came out of Contender Series. These guys are older than me by 10 years. Now I’m ranked No. 12, and people don’t want to fight me, ranked guys. Now ranked guys are saying, ‘Go have one more fight,’ and then if I beat somebody else, they’re gonna say, ‘You’re still fighting unranked guys.’
In an attempt to take matters into his own hands, Mokaev reached out to Matt Schnell and Tim Elliott, both of whom have fights booked in June. He received positive responses from both fighters, on the condition that they emerge from their respective bouts unscathed. While hopeful, Mokaev remains wary, knowing that anything can happen in the unpredictable world of mixed martial arts.
Not content with private messages, Mokaev has taken his frustrations public, engaging in a back-and-forth with Manel Kape and Brandon Royval. Royval, currently serving as the backup for the flyweight title fight between Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 290 on July 8th, has become a point of contention for Mokaev.
“Manel Kape, for example, he didn’t accept a fight against me,” Mokaev said. “He’s ranked No. 9, he’s 3-2 in the UFC, but he said, ‘You’re not on my level.’ What can I do if these guys don’t want to fight me? How can I not be his level if he lost to all ranked guys.”
With his unbeaten record and relentless drive, Muhammad Mokaev has proven his worth in the octagon. However, the lack of opportunities against ranked opponents is threatening to derail his quest for gold. As the young fighter continues to navigate the challenges of the UFC, his determination and skill are sure to capture the attention of the mixed martial arts world.
As Mokaev awaits his breakthrough moment, fans eagerly anticipate the day he can showcase his skills against the best in the division, inching closer to his dream of becoming the youngest champion in UFC history.