ABU DHABI: Unbeaten flyweight Muhammad Mokaev returns to Abu Dhabi on Saturday for UFC 294: Makhachev vs Volkanovski 2, looking to build on the win he enjoyed on his last trip to the UAE capital.
Mokaev will take on Tim Elliot at Etihad Arena in a strong card headlined by the highly anticipated lightweight title clash between Islam Makhachev and the UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
Fighting out of Manchester, UK, Mokaev is a hugely popular fighter in the Middle East. This is due to his exciting fighting style and personal story.
A refugee from Dagestan, Mokaev moved to the UK at the age of 12. From his family having to live on the equivalent of only $7 a day, he has become one of the UFC’s most exciting prospects with a 10-0-0 (1 no contest) record. He has achieved a perfect four wins from as many contests in the Octagon.
With his Muslim faith endearing him to the region’s fight fans, he has enjoyed phenomenal support when fighting in Abu Dhabi, where he secured a submission victory over Malcolm Gordon in October 2022.
Mokaev said he could not wait to return to Etihad Arena and put on a show for his supporters.
“I have an amazing fan base in Abu Dhabi,” he said. “Even when I fought on the prelims last year, the packed arena made it feel like a main event.
“I am very excited to be back and fighting again — I am as excited now as when I made my debut. When I got injured in March, I knew there would be UFC in Abu Dhabi and straight away I told the UFC, ‘Book me for this.’ They told me I might not be recovered in time, but I said ‘I will be recovered to fight there’.”
The 23-year-old came to Bahrain in September to finish his preparations and ensure he was acclimatized to the Middle Eastern weather before his clash with Elliot.
“We came out here on Sept. 7 because the climate is a big difference to the UK,” he said. “A lot of fighters make the mistake of coming out too late, but I wasn’t going to do that.”
Three of Mokaev’s four UFC wins have come by submission, and he is promising fans they will see the best version of him yet. “I think my all-round game has got a lot better — but especially my strength. I have been working on a lot of strength conditioning and you will see a different version of me in Abu Dhabi — this is Mokaev 2.0.
“I just want to say thank you to all the people who support me and I am looking forward to giving my thanks to them in Abu Dhabi with another (strong) performance inside the Octagon.”