Muhammad Mokaev posed in a Manchester United shirt with UFC President Dana White after his win at London’s O2 Arena
MMA sensation Muhammad Mokaev posed in a Manchester United jersey with UFC president Dana White after making a stunning debut for the promotion by choking out Cody Durden in 58 seconds at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday.
Rising flyweight star Mokaev took down Durden with a flying knee, then choked out the controversial American before leaving to celebrate a dream first fight in his homeland where he has settled as a refugee after leaving the Dagestan at the age of 12.
“In 2018, I messaged Dana White and said, ‘in four years I’ll be in the UFC'” the 21-year-old then reflected as he prepared to collect his performance bonus. “I’m here – I’m about to raise $50,000.”
Mokaev added to BT Sport: “It’s amazing, especially when I’m fighting guys who are ten years older than me.
“It’s his fourth fight and my debut. To make a statement like that is something different.
“He’s a wrestler – they’ll all eat knees. I’m also a wrestler but I haven’t just done MMA wrestling my whole career; I’ve done MMA, boxing, mixed.
“He bent over because I faked the right knee and then I thought, ‘I’m going to go. “
“Once I got his neck – I finish everybody if I got their neck. In the gym, I train with featherweight and lightweight guys.
“I’ve never had a flyweight sparring partner in my life. I’m too strong for those guys. That’s why I feel so confident.”
Nearly 17,000 people saw Mokaev extend his perfect professional record to seven wins.
“I didn’t expect so many people. It’s my first fight and nobody shows up, usually. For Bruce Buffer to announce my name is incredible. Now I want the top 15 guys.
“I want Tim Elliott. He’s a top ten guy. I hope he accepts this fight. I want to fight him, beat him, get into the top five and get accelerated to a UFC belt. I hope that Dana will give me this fight.”
Durden had been criticized for saying he sent off former opponent Qileng Aori “return to China where he came from” in his immediate post-fight comments in November.
The 30-year-old had accused Mokaev of being angry and “act tough” in what he claimed was a failed pre-fight attempt to be intimidating, adding that he “shock the world”.
“I live to fight another day,” Durden told his fans afterwards. “I had the best camp, great weight cut and felt really alive in the cage. Beaten, fair and square. I’ll be back.”
White was impressed with Mokaev. “Another guy who won $50,000 and earned it,” said the businessman. “Everyone played tonight. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
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