Muhammad Mokaev and Jake Hadley aren’t fighting each other at UFC 286 but they just about started the event a few days early after running into each other at the hotel.
The flyweights have engaged in a volatile back-and-forth since both arrived in the UFC and that rivalry nearly boiled over on Wednesday. According to Mokaev, he tried to come face-to-face with Hadley over words they’ve shared in the past but he claims the Contender Series veteran wanted no part of him during the confrontation.
“I actually just came face-to-face with him. He didn’t say one word and his dad started backing him up,” Mokaev revealed during UFC 286 media day. “I don’t understand. If my father was in front of me and I’m a UFC fighter, I wouldn’t stand behind my dad. I would jump over and slap the guy.
“He didn’t say any word. I don’t know, these guys don’t see me in real life. I know these kinds of guys. I grew up in England. Twitter is different than life.”
Mokaev has grown frustrated in recent months while waiting for a ranked opponent to accept a matchup against him, which has put him at odds with numerous fighters at 125 pounds.
Despite that built in volatility, Mokaev promises he’s not looking for trouble, especially considering he’s personally worked with two of his past opponents since they fought. He just has an issue with certain people and it appears Hadley might be near the top of that hit list.
“I’ve just been at Tiger Muay Thai training with Charles Johnson,” Mokaev explained. “I’ve been at American Top Team training with Cody Durden. I said to Malcolm Gordon if you need any help, we’re in this room we can help you, too.
“I’m OK but guys like Jake Hadley I don’t know what to call them. I don’t want to swear but he didn’t say one word. One word. At least say something. Don’t stand behind your father. I feel very bad for his father, [he’s] an old man, I didn’t want to anything because old man is in front of me. I imagine it’s my father.”
It’s always fun to meet person in real life after they talk shit on Twitter for last 5 years— Muhammad Mokaev (@muhammadmokaev) March 15, 2023
I couldn’t hear one word from hadleys mouth, thank your dad for stepping in for you!
For his part, Hadley acknowledged the run-in with Mokaev at the hotel and he detailed why he wasn’t interested in getting into a pre-fight brawl before both of them are scheduled to compete against different opponents.
“The kid’s just an idiot,” Hadley said. “I mean he’s coming over to me trying to fight me in the hotel but I mean he don’t want to fight me in the cage. He’s fighting a debut guy. He’s like ‘I won’t fight you because you lost against Allan [Nascimento]’ and all this but then he wants to fight me in the hotel? I mean what is this guy doing? He’s a total idiot.
“If there’s such a problem with me then why don’t you just fight me in a cage fight? We can’t be fighting here. People are going to break it up. People are going to get into trouble. What happens if I sock him in the face when he closes the distance? I’ve already had staff complain about me before so they’re going to complaining ‘you knocked Mokaev out’ and all this in the back and they’re going to moan at me. I’m the guy that’s painted as the bad guy all the while but yet he’s coming over to me. It’s like relax, back up bro. You take a step closer I’m going to knock you clean out. But he’s an idiot.”
Hadley admits he was standing at the ready when Mokaev approached him because they’ve apparently had similar encounters in the past after both fighters grew up competing together on the amateur circuit around England.
“I’ve had multiple [run ins] over the years because he’s obviously amateur when I was amateur,” Hadley said. “He said I’m going to hit you with a chair and I’m going to f****** do this and do that. When you threaten violence when you see somebody, it puts you on your toes like all right then.
“If he’s going to come at me, I can’t let him close the distance because boom, he’s going to be out of there. So I expect the security to be a bit more on point. I don’t want to have to bang him out.”
The animosity between the fighters appears palpable but Hadley still doesn’t expect that he’ll ever actually see Mokaev standing across the cage from him in the UFC.
“He won’t take that fight,” Hadley said. “It’s been going on for years when we was kids and I just don’t see that fight happening, to be fair. I don’t even know if the UFC would put it together because obviously we’re two UK guys and thought to be prospects. Maybe I’m not thought to be as much of a prospect because I lost my debut but after this fight, I think people are going to put me up there more.
“But I think the time to make it was probably on this card because he’s fighting a debut kid. He’s probably a good guy, he’s probably a good opponent but I don’t understand why. Why would you just put me and him together and get it done now?”