The #12 ranked Flyweight Muhammad "The Punisher" Mokaev is one of the most avoided fighters in the Flyweight division. He's an undefeated prospect with a 10-0-1NC record, riding a four-fight winning streak inside the UFC with three finishes. He dreams of becoming the youngest UFC Champion, and at the age of twenty-two, time is running thin. And unfortunately, Mokaev is struggling to get a fight booked and has seemingly called out the entire division in desperation. So let's take at some likely matchups for his next bout.
Fighting out of Phuket, Thailand, by way of Luanda, Angola, Manel "Starboy" Kape joins Mokaev as one of the most exciting prospects in the division. After an 0-2 start in his UFC career, including a highly controversial split-decision loss to Matheus Nicolau, he's won three straight, including finishes over Zhalgas Zhumagulov and Ode Osborne and a dominant decision victory vs. David Dvořák. Despite a short UFC career, he has plenty of experience in RIZIN FC, with bouts against Kai Asakura and Kyoji Horiguchi.
Mokaev has been howling for the matchup vs. Kape, offering to step in as a replacement since his two previous matchups against the former Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Alex Perez fell apart. The two have exchanged plenty of verbal altercations on Twitter, so there's a high chance we'll see this one next.
Mokaev isn't the only Flyweight prospect coming out of the UK. Jake "White Kong" Hadley debuted in the UFC just over a year ago, and despite losing his debut to Allan Nascimento, he's looked very imposing in his three UFC bouts. After his first career defeat, he rebounded with a triangle choke against Carlos Candelario. He followed that victory up against Malcom Gordon, TKOing him in a minute with a lethal body hook.
Although he's booked against Tagir Ulanbekov for his next fight, we could see this bout come to fruition in Q3 or Q4 of 2023. The two have been engaging in back-and-forth arguments online, and we can expect a high-stakes matchup if the UFC decides to put this one together.
Tim Elliot holds the #11 ranking at Flyweight and is facing Victor Altamirano this weekend for UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs. Albazi. Elliot is one of the most awkward strikers in the division but still manages to find plenty of success despite his uncoordinated style. Accompanied by some slick Jiu-Jitsu, he's one of the most unpredictable contenders in the entire division. He's also a veteran of the UFC, with seventeen bouts inside the promotion and a crazy resume of fights against Demetrious Johnson, Brandon Royval, Deiveson Figueiredo, and Tagir Ulanbekov.
Elliott and Mokaev have verbally agreed to fight on Twitter. But, unlike the previous entries, Mokaev possesses no ill will toward Elliott and instead credited the veteran's heart in his callout.
There are plenty of options available to Mokaev, which makes it all the more frustrating that he can't acquire a ranked matchup. Who would you like to see Mokaev fight next? As a member of the Verdict Community, let us know your prediction in the comments below.