2022 looks to be an exciting year for British MMA fans, with the UFC’s long awaited return to London due to take place on March 19 at London’s famous O2 Arena.
Salford looks like it will be overrepresented with the entertaining rising star Muhammad Mokaev fighting at flyweight and heavyweight Tom Aspinall all set to compete.
For someone that has only just signed his first UFC contract, earlier last month and is only 21 years of age, Mokaev has become a household name in the British MMA scene, as well as the wider world including his native Russia and Bahrain where he has spent time competing.
His first fight is already attracting plenty of attention despite not taking place for another 3 months. Last week the highly touted Dagestani prospect announced on social media that he would face United States’ controversial Cody Durden, who is 9 years older at 30 and has had 3 fights for the promotion so far with a UFC record of 1-1-1.
Mokaev has been a long awaited addition to the UFC and is the youngest fighter on the roster. He joins with an impressive professional MMA record of 30-0-0. He isn’t setting himself any easy goals either, stating multiple times his plan is to win the title by the end of 2023 to beat Jon Jones and become the youngest champion ever.
— Muhammad Mokaev (@muhammadmokaev) December 7, 2021
A natural showman and promoter, Mokaev has captured fans’ hearts by using social media to his advantage to call people out, interacting with fans (considerably more so than most fighters do), and even using it to lobby controversial Home Secretary Priti Patel to grant his wife’s visa application after it was unfairly rejected, even after her husband had permanent residency in the country and represented the Team GB wrestling team.
— Muhammad Mokaev (@muhammadmokaev) November 20, 2021
He has become a popular figure in the areas he has spent time living and training around Salford, Wigan, and Manchester and will no doubt hold the title of ‘the people’s champion’ if he achieves his goals. Recently he’s attended Old Trafford, the Etihad, and the DW Stadium and has expressed his desire to fight at Old Trafford and DW one day.
Something of a patriot, Mokaev has repeatedly expressed his gratitude towards the UK and his love of the country, stating recently “what I love about British people, doesn’t matter who you are, you get same treatment as others but in most countries it’s all about reputation which is wrong”. He took the time to thank Salford GMP officers for their response to an accident, calling British police officers the best in the world.
I think best police officers are in UK, seen little accident in Salford, they way the speak to people and treat them is another level! Hope you all have safe career 🙏👍 @gmpolice
— Muhammad Mokaev (@muhammadmokaev) December 12, 2021
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There’s never a dull day for the exciting young prospect in between his MMA, Jiu Jitsu, and wrestling, he’s found time to help coach some of the younger members of one of the MMA camps he trains with – Aspire in Liverpool.
In October he attended the Arnold Sports Festival where he represented the Aspire corner and saw some of Aspire’s most exciting under 18s take home impressive wins.
Salford’s other huge MMA name- highly ranked Heavyweight Tom Aspinall is also set to fight on the night, looking to continue his 4-0-0 UFC win streak. He will face Shamil Abdurakhimov, an experienced Dagestani fighter who has fought big names such as Andrei Arlovski, Derrick Lewis, and Curtis Blaydes. The fight has yet to be officially finalised but if all goes well they will both return to the octagon in March.
Dana White has cast a flicker of doubt upon the event stating ‘we will have to wait and see’ as it pertains to UK COVID restrictions and how they develop over the next couple of months. But said it will go ahead if things stay ‘normal’ in this regard.