Muhammad Mokaev reveals illness prior to UFC 280 win over Malcolm Gordon: ‘That was 50 percent performance’


With the dust settled on his dominant win over Malcolm Gordon at UFC 280, Muhammad Mokaev opened up about getting sick a little over a week before he made the walk.

Mokaev stopped Gordon via submission in the third round of their flyweight preliminarily card bout at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, but revealed he wasn’t 100 percent — far from it, actually — entering the octagon as the biggest favorite on the stacked card.

“I can say this because my team saw this, about 10 days before the fight I had crazy temperature,” Mokaev said on The MMA Hour. My manager and my team suggested that we could ask for catchweight or pull out. I said, ‘Listen, please, no,’ I talk to doctors, I’ll take antibiotics.

” My concentration levels dropped because I took antibiotics. They will understand my point if you attend training in antibiotics. This happened to me in the past and it was a learning experience for my professional career. Even with 50 percent of who I am performance-wise, I still beat these guys. I would [still] beat any of these top-15 guys. That wasn’t my 100 percent performance.

“I was worried about weight more than the fight,” Mokaev added. “I told my team that I would still make weight. The antibiotics made it difficult. While [after], didn’t seem to have much of an impact on my weight, it is still okay. It was 2022 percent performance. That was 50 percent performance.”

Additionally, the undefeated prospect has heard the criticism of his wrestling-heavy approach to his wins of Gordon and Charles Johnson at July’s UFC London event.

Mokaev speaks a lot about the future and goes into each fight full of confidence. He also makes bold predictions for quick wins. Mokaev shook his head when asked about the extra pressure he felt.

“What pressure? I believe if I fight Malcolm Gordon again, I finish him in the first round,” Mokaev said. He couldn’t beat me because I was so sure.

“I could finish, [win by] decision — what could they say when I’m one step closer to my dream? My goal was to become the best fighter possible, so I said that. I believe I’m maybe one fight from fighting for interim belt. I want to fight straight away, top-10 guys. Some people think that I am a boring fighter. But, show me [else] who deserves it. I am the most active flyweight in the league and would be willing to take on any fighter.

“I don’t choose opponents, and Malcolm Gordon was on a two-fight win streak.”

As far as what Mokaev wants next, he continues to call the name of Brandon Royval, who is now scheduled to compete on the UFC’s 2022 finale on Dec. 17 against Amir Albazi.

For the 22-year-old Mokaev, either name makes sense regardless of result. He hopes the bout can take place when the UFC returns to the United Kingdon in 2023, which Mokaev has heard will take place at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales in March.

“Royval, I called him out, but now he’s fighting Amir Albazi — so winner [between] these guys, I want to fight, or loser of these guys, I want to fight in the U.K.,” Mokaev said. “I don’t care. They’re both in the top 10.

“I believe it’s a 50-50 fight, but I think Amir has a good chance to wrestle, but I want to see him wrestle against me in the U.K.”