By Caoilte de Barra
UFC London marked the promotional debut of Muhammad Mokaev on Saturday, March 19. The two-time IMMAF World Champion became the UFC’s youngest athlete and made an instant impression defeating Cody Durden in under sixty seconds. The 21-year-old came out happy to strike early and a knee to the head started the finishing sequence.
The knee landed flush and hurt Durden who instantly shot for a takedown. This led to Mokaev snatching his neck and locking in the guillotine choke. Durden was unable to escape and was forced to tap at 58 seconds of the very first round. This quick win is the second-fastest flyweight finish in UFC history.
Following the event, Dana White confirmed that every athlete that got a finish received a performance of the night bonus meaning that Mokaev received an extra $50k for his efforts. In his post-fight interview, the soon-to-be father explained that he wanted to face someone in the rankings and fast track his way to the title, eying up a bout with Tim Elliott. He revealed that six weeks before his bout he broke his hand in three places but he didn’t let it stop him from making his UFC debut. His win earned the plaudits of many people, including two-time world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua.
Later in the card, 2015 IMMAF European Gold Medalist Jack Shore faced arguably his toughest test to date in Timur Valiev. Shore faced early adversity losing the opening round on the judge’s scorecards but quickly found his groove in the second. Some big moments for the Welshman meant all the momentum was on his side going into the final round.
The third and final round was nothing short of spectacular with Shore cementing his win by knocking down Valiev twice. He was unable to get the finish but was given the nod from the judges to win the bout and extend his win streak his perfect record to sixteen.
Not only was it the IMMAF alumni that impressed on the card. Iceland coach Gunnar Nelson returned to the cage for the first time since 2019. Nelson was present at the IMMAF World Cup coaching fellow athletes training out of Mjolnir MMA. Nelson faced a tough opponent in Takashi Sato, who stepped in on late notice. Nelson looked as clinical as always and got the decision despite coming close to a finish during the match.
Shore and Mokaev’s wins mean that both IMMAF gold medalists on the UFC London card boosted their prospects of competing against someone in the UFC rankings. It may not be long before both men are climbing the rankings in the hunt for UFC gold.