Muhammad Mokaev credits Khabib Nurmagomedov for bringing attention to Dagestani fighters; however, Mokaev is on a journey all his own.
UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov's domination in the Octagon has brought a lot of attention to Dagestan. Sprinkle in rising stars like Zabit Magomedsharipov and Islam Makhachev, and you have a recipe for success. Mokaev gives "The Eagle" all the credit in the world, but "The Punisher" is on his own path of destruction.
"Nobody knew about Dagestan when I came to U.K. I had to show people on a map. Now everyone knows thanks to Khabib. We have a huge history, Khabib helped to promote it. It's a lot easier because when people know where you're coming from they treat you different," he explained. "I don't like when people compare me to Khabib because I have a different story, things I am doing on my own in a different country. I have a huge amateur career, becoming a two-time champion, winning the Oceanic and European champions."
And do not get Mokaev started on the hat.
"Some people do because I wear this hat, but it's a traditional hat," he explained. "If I start wearing this hat now, it might look like I'm copying Khabib. But I've been wearing this hat since 2013..."
Mokaev got his start in wrestling at a young age. Seeking further challenges, Mokaev begna training jiu-jitsu. Finding success against professional mixed martial artists in jiu-jitsu implored "The Punisher" to embark on an MMA career..
"I started wrestling first. When I was winning British championships, three, four, five times, I was getting bored. I couldn't travel abroad because of my passport. I had to find challenges, find things to do," Mokaev explained. "I wanted to find things to get excited about. My team and I were travelling around the U.K."
Mokaev has won by decision, knockout, submission and submission due to strikes in his four professional outings. He also amassed a remarkable 23-0 record as an amateur.