Muhammad Mokaev Survives Scary kneebar, Submits Jafel Filho

Muhammad Mokaev and Jafel Filho, UFC 286 weigh-in ceremony Photo: Jamie Theodosi/Cageside Press

Undefeated top-15 UFC lightweight prodigy and holder of the best amateur mixed martial arts record of all time, Mohammad Mokayev, takes on newcomer Jaffir Filho at UFC 286 in London, England.

Mokaev is an elite wrestler who won three fights before starting his UFC career, and his victory over Malcom Gordon at the last UFC London fight earned him the ranking. Presumably because of his age — 22 — the promotion has given him a slower start than would have otherwise been the case, and facing a debutant as a ranked fighter might otherwise raise some eyebrows. However, Jafel Filho shocked the world by flying from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to London as he attempted to make a name for himself by knocking out one of the most promising players in the entire sport.

Both fighters struck hard. Mokayev showed no signs of shooting at first, just allowing Fillo to press and attack for a while. More than a minute later, Mokaev finally knocked out his opponent; Filho responded by guillotining. This choked Mokaev a bit, but he was able to escape and hit Filho in the back with a hook. Filho initially fenced him off with both hooks at the same time, but after a while, Mokaev hit both hooks and then body triangle. Filho was able to avoid choking and free his back, but that put Mokaev in the lead, with wrist rides and ground strikes raining where possible for the remainder of the round.

Much of the second round was consumed by a slow dance around the cage, neither man hitting the ball many times and Mokaev not shooting. Later in the round, with just over a minute left, Mokaev wanted a ball, but Filho escaped. However, it was the second attempt of the round that saw the Brazilian knocked down with less than a minute left. He couldn’t do much damage from the top before the round was over; Filho choked him.

The third round saw Mokaev show more insistence on the removal. In less than thirty seconds, he was on Filho’s back and was almost choked by his back, but Filho defended. The Brazilian then got up and Mokaev was on his back again, but when he tried to hook again, Filho grabbed one of his legs and fell to his knees. Within seconds, he had it locked down very tight, threatening the undefeated Mokayev. Mokaev refused the tap because his leg was roughly stretched; Mokaev grimaced in pain, his knee bent in the direction of a possible torn ligament. It took a full minute, but Mokayev finally escaped and mounted the now exhausted Jaffel.

Mokaev sat back and went with the flow as he blew past Filho, knocking him down even without getting the rear naked choke all the way under his neck.

Even though his knee could be shredded, Mokaev was still able to make it through the third round again like his last fight. However, the results could have been disastrous; after the battle, Mokayev was unable to walk in any useful way, putting his future in grave jeopardy. A knee injury could end a career. Fans of the Dagestan and British fighter will surely be keeping an eye on social media to see what doctors are saying in the days and weeks ahead.

Official result: Muhammad Mokaev def. Jafel Filho by Submission (rear naked choke) Round 1, 4:32

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