Muslim fans of mixed martial arts (MMA) are getting a new champion with the recent successes of Muhammad Mokaev.
Mokaev, 20, had a 22-0 amateur record and now commands a 4-0 professional record so far, CNN reported.
He came to the UK as a refugee with his father from Dagestan, the home country of Khabib Nurmagomedov who recently quitted MMA.
Born in Dagestan in 2000, Mokaev was introduced to fighting from early years of his life.
“[At] school, either you go to training, either you go and sit outside and talk about life,” he explains. “Like you can sit, sit, and then there’s somebody who starts fighting, maybe two or three fights in one circle. Because people [have] got nothing to do.
“At that time, I’d go to train and come back home. We can go to training; we can go to school. Sometimes you can miss lessons in school to go to training. It’s like you’d call the teacher and say: ‘I’m stuck in training, I can’t come today.’ And she’d say, ‘OK.’ That’s how it works.”
After the death of his mother, the 8-year-old had to move with his father across Europe till they reached their destination in England.
“I came to UK as a refugee and I was getting like £5 a day. Me and my father on £5 a day, it’s like maybe $6-7, and it’s like you have to split this for food and clothes and internet for your phone. It’s not enough. I was hungry.”
Mokaev had to take various jobs to fund his MMA training, ranging from security work to giving leaflets out on the streets and cleaning building sites. He believes these life challenges are the basis of his success.
“I’m really thankful to God. He gave me these challenges because maybe if I came to this country with a lot of money, maybe I’d be on the streets, maybe I’d be like a party boy,” Mokaev explained.
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the world’s most popular Muslim athletes, retired in October with a shinning record, becoming one of the best in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) history.
Nurmagomedov’s shock retirement earlier this year stunned most of the MMA community, with many suggesting he is the greatest ever UFC fighter with his 28-0 record.
Mokaev works to surpass the achievements of the undefeated, lightweight champion Nurmagomedov.
“I believe I will be [the greatest of all time],” says Mokaev confidently, before reassuring fans that they will be able to watch him in the UFC “next year.”