"Even Fighters Under 61 Kg Can Beat Pimblett". UFC Fighter Mokaev Talks About His Provocative Opponent, Conor And Pavlovich

Marina Magomedova
12 Oct 2023

UFC 294 takes place on October 21 and will feature a number of Russian fighters. The event is available by subscription at UFC Fight Pass. Russian-born fighter Muhammad Mokaev, who performs for England, will also take the stage that evening, and his opponent will be American Tim Elliott.

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Muhammad Mokaev
Muhammad Mokaev

Mokaev gave an exclusive interview to Telecomasia.net, talking about:

  • the dirty tricks of his future opponent;
  • the coolest Dagestani fighters after Khabib and Islam;
  • not being surprised by Sadulaev's defeat at the World Championships;
  • his favorite football club;
  • flaws of Paddy Pimblett;
  • his surprise with Conor McGregor's comeback;
  • his friendship with Tom Aspinall.

– Muhammad, in which round do you expect to beat Tim Elliott?

– I want to win early. That would be the perfect outcome for me. I already have three early wins in the UFC in four fights. I haven't been fighting in this organization that long – a year and a half. Having a fifth fight for my division is a very fast pace.

– What did you learn from his fights with Askar Askarov and Tagir Ulanbekov?

– He tries to play a mental game. He talks during the fight, he pulls his gloves, pokes his opponents in the eyes, distracts them. They complain to their cornermen. But nobody can help you in the cage. It's a one-on-one fight. If he pulls my glove or pokes me in the eye, I'll do the same. I will not be distracted from the fight.

Muhammad Mokaev
Muhammad Mokaev

– Do you intend to talk to him with your fists only?

– Yes. No distractions. Such fighters want to tick their opponent off. Tim Elliott's opponents defeated him with their higher IQ. He fights like a street fighter. He's got no tactics, he just keeps going. You can trap him with that.

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– Why did you choose training in Dagestan?

– I usually spend summers in Dagestan. I had a training camp in the mountains. You don't get distracted there. When you go down to sea level you breathe easier.

– Are you going to train there more often?

– It depends on the location of the fight. I've been in Bahrain since September. It's convenient to fly to Abu Dhabi from here. It's the same climate. I will fight in America, I will prepare there.

– Who is the best among Dagestani fighters, apart from Islam Makhachev and Khabib Nurmagomedov?

– Rustam Khabilov. He was the first fighter to come close to a title fight when he fought Benson Henderson. He dominated the fight until a choking submission in the fourth round. Rashid Magomedov was also close to the title. He beat Gilbert Burns. Lost to Beneil Dariush, but I felt like he won. It was a very close fight, not a one-sided fight. It's just the UFC didn't want him there for some reason.

Rustam Khabilov
Rustam Khabilov

– What are Khabilov's plans now?

– He's going to be in my corner in Abu Dhabi. I think he has a contract. I think he wants to have one more fight.

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– Were you surprised by Abdulrashid Sadulaev's defeat at the World Wrestling Championships in Belgrade?

– I was not surprised, because he had an injury. I saw how he fought with Alikhan Zhabrailov before the injury. The score was 3-2. He missed the previous world championship. Downtime. Age. More injuries. Besides, there was a young guy there, Akhmed Tazhudinov. The young ones are hungry.

– Does Sadulaev still have a chance to win the Olympics?

– Yes, he does. It will be interesting to see two of our countrymen in the final. Of course, Sadulaev is much more experienced than Tazhudinov. Akhmed is basically his pupil.

Abdulrashid Sadulaev
Abdulrashid Sadulaev

– Do you like football and do you have a favorite club?

– I'm a Manchester United fan, but now I've moved to the city of Wigan, between Manchester and Liverpool. I lived there and went to school there, I went to college there. We have a club playing in the second division. In 2013, the team won the FA Cup, beating Manchester City in the final.

– Is it hard to watch Manchester United's performance without Alex Ferguson?

– No. I can go to a match and watch a game, but it's not like after that I would stay up all night, thinking: "We won't win the Premier League without Alex Ferguson".

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– Do you intend to move up a weight class?

– I would like to. My division is 61 kg. I've always fought at that weight since I joined the UFC. I'm sure that I can easily get into the top 10, because I fought fighters like Pedro Munhoz and a couple other guys. I can put on a good fight at 61 kg. If there are no top-rated fighters at 57 kg, I will challenge them at 61.

– What do you think about the balance of power in the fight between Tony Ferguson and Paddy Pimblett?

– Tony's no slouch. And Pimblett lost his last fight to Jared Gordon. Ferguson has a chance. Sure, he's been discounted, but it doesn't take much to beat Pimblett. Even fighters at 66 kg and someone from the top 15 at 61 kg can beat him. We're from the same city. I know there's nothing special about him.

– McGregor is back in the USADA pool. Who could become a competitive opponent for him?

– I think there's a Michael Chandler story, and they need to fight. Both of them are on the juice. It’s kind of a little surprising for me that he's coming back. He's got so much money. No hunger. He's just fighting. I wouldn't be coming back if I were him.

– Is there a sense that he's going to get out of the testing pool and not come back into the octagon?

– If he feels like it. He can write something and then delete it. He's like that.

Paddy Pimblett
Paddy Pimblett
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– I'd also like to hear your take on the Sergey Pavlovich vs Tom Aspinall fight.

– Aspinall can win this fight. He's a very good puncher. Pavlovich is no joke either. You could say it's 50-50, but I know how Tom trains. When I was 12 years old, his father was my first jiu-jitsu coach, we were close. He would finish training at 9pm, and at 10pm he would start working as a security guard at the club until three in the morning. And before work, he would give me a ride home when it rained. That lasted for three years. Tom is a very family-oriented person. No drugs or alcohol. He's a very good lad for an Englishman. I want him to be a champion.

– Who would be the most worthy contender for the title right now?

– Aspinall. Or they could make a fight between him and Pavlovich.

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