MUHAMMAD MOKAEV is moving at a pace mixed martial arts prospects around the world could only dream of as he plots his way into the UFC.
The Dagestani-born Brit was arguably the busiest fighter on the planet last year, taking to the cage a staggering six times.
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Four of those outings came in a professional setting, the first of which took place at BRAVE 31 last August.
The most-talked about amateur in the sport’s brief history has made light work of all his opponents so far, a dominance that has prompted an early step up in class.
The highly-touted Ibragim Navruzov – who boasts a 5-1-1 record – has been tasked with the job of handing Mokaev his first loss in the sport.
ACB and M1 veteran Navruzov represents a marked jump up in the calibre of opponent Mokaev has faced so far in his brief professional career.
The step-up in class has pleased The Punisher, who told SunSport: “Of course I’m happy.
“I’m not that kind of fighter who has to do 10-0, 15-0 so the world knows me.
“They’ve known me since I was competing in the amateurs and now I’m a professional.
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“My last opponent was a good fitted amateur. I think [he was] 10-0, IMMAF world champion in the senior division. A strong opponent and one with 80 per cent finishes in his career.
“So he was a tough opponent. To be honest, I need two fights now before I go to the UFC.”
Unlike some other promotions, BRAVE hasn’t given Mokaev any gimme fights in the early embers of his career.
And the KHK MMA standout isn’t expecting a walk in the park against Georgia’s Navruzov.
He said: “This opponent is experienced. He’s had three fights on ACB, three fights on Fight Nights in Russia and one fight – a draw – in M1 Global.
“So it’s a tough fight. A wrestler, older guy. But I’m gonna show my best performance to date.
Mokaev has thoroughly enjoyed his time competing under the Brave banner but has gone on record with his desire to become the youngest champion in UFC history.
He said of the Middle Eastern promotion “They look after me good.
“I went out there in January for my fight and they gave me an apartment, they gave me a car, they sorted out my meals.
“Everything was sorted. They looked after me [well]. I was there for three months of training and I just enjoyed it.
“To be honest, I don’t want to leave. But my goal, like I always said, my dream from a kid, this [getting into the UFC] is my goal.
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“My loyalty is still with BRAVE. Even if I go to the UFC, I will represent them.
“And I will always talk good about them because they gave me this platform after IMMAF. The loyalty between my and Brave is indefinite.”
The dream move to the mixed martial arts’ premier promotion is very much at the forefront of the flyweight prospect’s mind.
But before he can think about gracing the octagon, Mokaev must first get past the game Navruzov.
The soft-spoken and humble Mokaev is by no means underestimating the latest obstacle in his path to the UFC but fully expects to pass the test with flying colours.
He said: “I want to stay humble, so I don’t know what to say. Of course, I’m there to win.
“I’m not going there just to attend the event. I’m going for the victory.”