ABU DHABI – Muhammad Mokaev doesn’t intend on wasting anytime at UFC 280 – or after.
Mokaev (7-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) takes on Malcolm Gordon (14-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC) on Saturday at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and ESPN+.
With a goal to become the youngest UFC champion in history, 22-year-old Mokaev is eager to enter the rankings, but is having a hard time getting people to accept fights.
“When I beat Malcolm Gordon, people will say, ‘You’re still beating cans,’” Mokaev told MMA Junkie. “‘Fight somebody from top 15.’ That’s what I want people to say after this fight.”
Mokaev is looking to replicate his UFC debut, in which he finished Cody Durden in just 58 seconds. He landed a record 12 takedowns in a flyweight fight against Charles Johnson for a dominant win in July, but if he’s able to notch a quick finish against Gordon, he knows it’ll help his case for a ranked opponent.
“Now I need to push for top 15,” Mokaev said. “I need finish, and it’s possible to finish him. He’s like one of the opponents comfortable – like, he don’t know how to control distance, and that’s where I’m going to catch him … on the feet, or I take him down and submit him. I believe I will finish him and get my (jiu-jitsu) black belt.”
Mokaev already has plans of how he can jump into the top 15. When Brandon Royval’s opponent Askar Askarov withdrew from their UFC Fight Night 212 bout this past Saturday, Mokaev suggested Royval wait for him and the pair throw down before the end of the year.
“Some people say I don’t deserve this fight,” Mokaev said. “I see a lot of comments. But listen: Royval is not that level. He went split decision with Charles Johnson and I went 30-27, set flyweight (record for most) takedowns in history, and Charles Johnson was taking down Royval.
“So I believe I should be there. He didn’t even reply. I believe he thinks I’m nobody. But if I’m nobody – you get hype, you get advantages, you get hype, you get good money contracts. So if you believe you’re ranked No. 3 and you look down at the fighters, why don’t you fight and get easy fights?”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 280.
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