Born in the heart of Dagestan, Russia, home of some of the best mixed martial artists in the world, rising UK MMA prospect Muhammad Mokaev was just 12 years of age when he moved from Dagestan to England, and ever since, he has dedicated his life to combat sports and has big plans of being an Olympic champion one day.
With an 11-0 amateur record, Mokaev is currently ranked #1 in the UK at bantamweight, having previously fought multiple times at flyweight; winning a Cage Warriors Academy belt at 125lbs. Having elite accolades in MMA, Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, ‘The Black Tiger’ has also represented GB at the IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain, coming away with the gold medal, and becoming the youngest IMMAF world champion. Not to mention, he is only 18 years old.
In a recent interview with Muhammad, I asked him why he started wrestling and at what age did he start wrestling and MMA?
“I started wrestling because I was fighting outside on the streets because the background
“I come from in Dagestan, we fight everyday so I thought why don’t I do this for legacy instead. This is why I aim to be in the Olympics one day.
“I started wrestling at 13 years old, at the City of Manchester Wrestling Club. I transitioned into MMA and BJJ soon after, and had my first amateur fight in November 2015, which I won by Rear Naked Choke in the first round.”
Dagestan is known for being the birthplace of some of the biggest names in MMA and Wrestling and with Dagestan becoming a steady supplier of world and Olympic champions, the mountainous region’s training grounds have even started attracting foreign athletes. However, the gyms and the environment there are not what you would expect. I asked Muhammad, what’s the difference between wrestling in Russia compared to the UK?
“UK has great facilities to train and is a lot more intelligent when it comes to strength and conditioning and nutrition. The training here is smart training while in Dagestan, there are good fighters but they don’t have a program to follow and most of them end up getting injuries because they do not train smart.”
Muhammad also mentioned that
“It is important you are the very best wrestler you can possibly be at the gym in your weight class, because there are so many wrestlers on the mats, you need to stand out to be able to get picked for national teams, tournaments etc. In England, there are less wrestlers on the mats, therefore you can get more 1 to 1 time with your coaches”.
Team GB wrestler Muhammad has had a very short MMA career so far, but he has burst onto the scene in rapid fashion. I asked, what is the best moment of your short MMA career so far?
“The best moment of my career is travelling around the world with my loyal team. Also, getting to know people more that’s why I’m getting a lot of experience not just fighting, but with my personal life, so when I grow up and have my own family, it will be a lot easier for them.”
As you can see, Mokaev is determined to become the best possible athlete he can be. He doesn’t let any distractions get in the way of his dreams. Being loyal to his team and family is the one thing that Muhammad puts before anything else.
Muhammad’s role models include UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Russian UFC lightweight Rustam Khabilov, UFC light heavyweight chanpion Jon Jones, and young Russian star Yusuf Raisov. He admits that these fighters are his main role models because they are all humble and he has a lot of respect for them.
The European Junior BJJ Champion has achieved great things so far in his amateur career, and is destined to be a world-class professional mixed martial artist one day.
Though, he accepts he has a long way to go to be able to cement a great legacy. Mokaev says that “becoming amateur world champion is a great feeling, but I have bigger goals for the future”.
Muhammad’s current accolades include:
UK 61kg #1
Undefeated MMA 11-0-0
Junior European BJJ Champion
Team GB Wrestler
IMMAF World Champ 135lbs
5x British Wrestling Champion
British No-Gi Champion
He trains out of Aspire Combat Sports Academy in Liverpool with head coach Dean Garnett, BJJ coach Phil Turner and strength and conditioning coach Conor Heeney & City of Manchester Wrestling Club, alongside wrestling coach Oleg Druzhynets.
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