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Muhammad Mokaev reveals illness prior to UFC 280 win over Malcolm Gordon: ‘That was 50 percent performance’

With the dust settled on his dominant win over Malcolm Gordon at UFC 280, Muhammad Mokaev opened up about getting sick a little over a week before he made the walk.

Mokaev stopped Gordon via submission in the third round of their flyweight preliminarily card bout at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, but revealed he wasn’t 100 percent — far from it, actually — entering the octagon as the biggest favorite on the stacked card.

“I can say this because my team saw this, about 10 days before the fight I had crazy temperature,” Mokaev said on The MMA Hour. “I spoke to my manager and team, they said maybe we can ask to do catchweight with this fight, or maybe pull out. I said, ‘Listen, please, no,’ I talk to doctors, I’ll take antibiotics.

“My concentration level went down because of the antibiotics. If you go to training on antibiotics, they’ll understand what I’m talking about. I’ve had this in the past in my career and I got through it. Even with 50 percent of who I am performance-wise, I still beat these guys. I would [still] beat any of these top-15 guys. That wasn’t my 100 percent performance.

“I was worried about weight more than the fight,” Mokaev added. “I told my team that I would still make weight. It was difficult because of the antibiotics. I didn’t put much weight on [after], but it’s OK. I showed I have B-plan. That was 50 percent performance.”

Additionally, the undefeated prospect has heard the criticism of his wrestling-heavy approach to his wins of Gordon and Charles Johnson at July’s UFC London event.

Mokaev has spoken a lot about his future greatness, and enters each fight with an incredible amount of confidence, along with bold predictions of quick finishes. When asked if he feels that extra pressure, Mokaev shrugged it off.

“What pressure? I believe if I fight Malcolm Gordon again, I finish him in the first round,” Mokaev said. “I was so confident he couldn’t finish me.

“I could finish, [win by] decision — what could they say when I’m one step closer to my dream? I remember saying, ‘I’m going to be the most active fighter, take the belt,’ and I’m very, very close to my goal. I believe I’m maybe one fight from fighting for interim belt. I want to fight straight away, top-10 guys. People think I’m a boring fighter, but show me who [else] deserves it? I’m the most active flyweight on the roster and I’m game to fight anyone in the division.

“I don’t choose opponents, and Malcolm Gordon was on a two-fight win streak.”

As far as what Mokaev wants next, he continues to call the name of Brandon Royval, who is now scheduled to compete on the UFC’s 2022 finale on Dec. 17 against Amir Albazi.

For the 22-year-old Mokaev, either name makes sense regardless of result. He hopes the bout can take place when the UFC returns to the United Kingdon in 2023, which Mokaev has heard will take place at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales in March.

“Royval, I called him out, but now he’s fighting Amir Albazi — so winner [between] these guys, I want to fight, or loser of these guys, I want to fight in the U.K.,” Mokaev said. “I don’t care. They’re both in the top 10.

“I believe it’s a 50-50 fight, but I think Amir has a good chance to wrestle, but I want to see him wrestle against me in the U.K.”

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