UFC 286: Muhammad Mokaev is the fighter to watch

Jul 23, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Muhammad Mokaev (red gloves) during his fight against Charles
Jul 23, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Muhammad Mokaev (red gloves) during his fight against Charles / Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Muhammad Mokaev is the fighter to watch at UFC 286.

Muhammad Mokaev had one goal in mind when he joined the UFC last year, to become the youngest champion in the organization's history.

At just 22 years old, Mokaev has just under a year to reach that goal, but finding higher-ranked opponents to agree to fight him has been difficult. Currently ranked at No. 12, Mokaev faces Dana White's Contender Series winner Jafel Filho in his home country of England this weekend at UFC 286.

Mokaev was born in Dagestan, Russia, but moved to Manchester, England when he was 12 and sharpened his skills there. Mokaev is a freestyle wrestler who picked up Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission wrestling while going 23-0 as an amateur.

After starting out his pro career at bantamweight, Mokaev moved to flyweight in 2021 and went 6-0 while competing for Brave Combat Federation. Mokaev made his UFC debut about a year ago at UFC London, where he submitted Cody Durden in 58 seconds. Mokaev would then beat former LFA champion Charles Johnson and most recently Malcolm Gordon at UFC 280. Mokaev looks to keep his unbeaten record alive on home soil.

Muhammad Mokaev looks to make it nine in a row against Jafel Filho

Mokaev will face Filho, who was awarded a contract in week nine of last season. Filho fights out of Nova Uniao and was mainly featured in the Brazilian promotion Shoot Brasil until appearing on DWCS. Filho is 14-2 with 13 finishes (eight submissions, five knockouts) and most recently finished Roybert Echeverria in the third round which brought his win streak to five.

Mokaev will hold a slight two-inch reach advantage, but we could very well see this fight take place on the canvas with Mokaev's wrestling style vs. Filho's BJJ style. A win here for Mokaev should garner a ranked opponent his next time out.

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UFC 286: Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3 takes place on Saturday, March 18th, 2023, live from the O2 Arena in London, England. Follow along with Fansided MMA for all your news and highlights.