LONDON – Muhammad Mokaev is the biggest betting favorite this week in London, but he doesn’t plan on looking past his opponent.
The unbeaten Mokaev (8-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) takes on Jafel Filho (14-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in a flyweight bout on the UFC 286 prelims Saturday at The O2. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+. Mokaev is a huge -750 favorite at Tipico Sportsbook.
The England-based Mokaev fought on both the UFC’s London shows in 2022, including a $50,000 bonus submission of Cody Durden in his promotional debut. Against Malcolm Gordon this past October in Abu Dhabi, Mokaev was a 14-1 favorite. So the high expectations aren’t new to him.
“I don’t underestimate him,” Mokaev said at Wednesday’s UFC 286 media day. “Brazilians – they have a rough life, so he will be hungry for his debut as I was for my debut. I was hungry. But I think he has average skills. … I don’t have any pressure. I have huge support.”
Although Mokaev says he isn’t looking past Filho, he may have a future opponent around him much of the week. Jake Hadley will fight Gordon a few bouts before Mokaev makes his walk to the cage, and he’s been chirping in Mokaev’s direction.
The issue with that, Mokaev said, is that Hadley, also from England, doesn’t seem like he wants to take things beyond social media.
“I just actually came face to face with him,” Mokaev said. “He didn’t say one word and his dad started backing him up. I don’t understand. If my father was in front of me and I’m a UFC fighter, I wouldn’t stand behind my dad. I would jump over and slap the guy. So he didn’t say any words. I don’t know – this guy is not the same in real life. I know these kind of guys. I grew up in England, and Twitter is different than real life.
“I’ve just been in Tiger Muay Thai training with Charles Johnson. I’ve been at American Top Team training with Cody Durden. I said to Malcolm Gordon, ‘If you need any help in this room, we can help you, too.’ I’m OK, but guys like Jake Hadley, I don’t know – I don’t know what to call them. I don’t want to swear, but he didn’t say one word – one word. At least say something. Don’t stay behind your father. I feel very bad for his father. I didn’t want to even say anything because (there was an) old man in front of me – I imagined it’s my father.”
Check out Mokaev’s full media day interview in the video above.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 286.
UFC 286’s biggest favorite, Muhammad Mokaev, not overlooking Filho – but sees Jake Hadley in shadows