UFC 286: Muhammad Mokaev Survives Scary kneebar, Submits Jafel Filho

Muhammad Mokaev and Jafel Fialho, UFC 286
Muhammad Mokaev guts out a kneebar attempt by Jafel Fialho at UFC 286 Credit: ESPN/UFC

Undefeated top-15 UFC flyweight phenom and the owner of the best amateur MMA record ever, Muhammad Mokaev, took on debutante Jafel Filho at UFC 286 in London, England.

Mokaev, an elite wrestler, had won three fights to start his UFC career and his submission of Malcom Gordon at the last UFC London earned him a place in the rankings. Presumably due to his age — 22 — the promotion have been giving him a slower start than they might otherwise, otherwise facing a debuting fighter as a ranked fighter might raise some eyebrows. Jafel Filho, however, flew to London from Rio de Janiero, Brazil to shock the world as he attempted to make a name for himself by taking out one of the best prospects in the entire sport.

Both fighters came out with a kick-heavy attack. Mokaev showed no signs of shooting a takedown early on and just let Filho pressure and strike for a while. After just over a minute Mokaev finally shot a takedown; Filho went for a guillotine in response. It stifled Mokaev for a bit but he was eventually able to escape and get Filho’s back with one hook in. Filho used the fence to keep him from getting both hooks in at first but after a while Mokaev was able to get both, and then the body triangle. Filho was able to avoid the choke and free his back, but that left Mokaev on top, wrist riding and raining down ground strikes when possible for the rest of the round.

Most of the time in the second round was eaten up by a slow dance around the cage, neither man landing many strikes and Mokaev not shooting a takedown. Late in the round, with just over a minute left, Mokaev went for one but Filho escaped. However, it was the second attempt of the round which got the Brazilian down with just under a minute left. He was not able to do much damage from top before the round ended; Filho stifled him.

The third round saw Mokaev show much more insistence on getting the takedown. Within thirty seconds he had gotten the back of Filho and almost got a rear-naked choke, but Filho defended. The Brazilian then scrambled up and Mokaev went to get on his back again, but as he tried to get a second hook in Filho grabbed one of his legs and inverted on a kneebar. Within seconds he had it locked up extremely tight, threatening the undefeated Mokaev. Mokaev refused to tap as his leg was brutally stretched out; Mokaev grimaced in pain, likely having torn ligaments as his knee bent the wrong way. It took over a full minute but Mokaev was able to finally escape and get on top of a now-exhausted Jafel.

Mokaev got on the back and had his way as he blew through Filho and tapped him out even without getting the rear-naked choke under the neck completely.

Even with his knee possibly shredded, Mokaev was able to pull out another third round finish, just like his last fight. However, the results may be disastrous; Mokaev was unable to walk in any sort of serviceable manner after the fight, putting his future in serious jeopardy. Knee injuries can be career-ending. Fans of the Dagestani and British fighter will surely be paying close attention to social media to see what the doctor’s prognosis is in the coming days and weeks.

Official Result: Muhammad Mokaev def. Jafel Filho by Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 1, 4:32