Muhammad Mokaev tells Jafel Filho to ‘lose like a man,’ promises ‘I will never tap even if I end my career that way’
Muhammad Mokaev admits he’s just built different even if that comes to the detriment of his long term health and future in MMA.
This past Saturday at UFC 286, the 22-year-old flyweight battled through a devastating kneebar attempt from opponent Jafel Filho that saw Mokaev’s leg bend in ways the human body wasn’t built to sustain. In fact, Mokaev posted a photo on social media showing the gruesome swelling in his leg after the event was over but he has no regrets about not tapping out before eventually turning the tables and finishing Filho with a submission of his own just moments later.
“I’ll never tap,” Mokaev said on The MMA Hour. “I will never tap. I know it’s a crazy thing to say. I will go to sleep. They break my arm. If the referee stops, [it stops]. If they don’t stop, I will never tap even if I end my career that way.
“I just have this principle. I believe I went through my life the strongest of them hopping inside the cage. Just my principles. I want to be different.”
Mokaev revealed that he underwent an MRI on Monday to see the extent of the damage done, although he hasn’t received the results yet to know what potential injury he might face.
A torn ACL or something that severe could sideline Mokaev for the better part of the next year but he’s hopeful that the diagnosis will only require rehabilitation and some time off rather than undergoing surgery.
“Crazy, first day after the fight I didn’t sleep until the next night,” Mokaev said about the pain in his knee. “It swelled up and I’ve done the MRI and I’m just kind of waiting on the results and hoping it’s all good because I want to be the youngest UFC champion.
“I don’t think something is ripped there but it could be partial [tear], maybe still holding I hope. That’s how I feel.”
Replays and photos from the event show just how much torque Filho had on the knee as he continued pulling at Mokaev’s leg just trying to score the submission win. Mokaev admits that he earned a lot of snapping and cracking in his knee but he still refused to give up.
“I just seen Jafel Filho say he heard nine cracks but in my head, I heard like six or seven,” Mokaev said. “Four cracks first, he asked Herb Dean ‘did he tap?’ and I shook my head [no] and Herb Dean said he didn’t so he re-gripped to a stronger position and he pulled it more.
“I felt his groin guard on my knee. I heard all the ripping bits but I’m just waiting until it fully rips.”
While Mokaev is hoping he gets good news where his knee is concerned, he’s also prepared for the worst if that’s the outcome.
Even if that’s the case, Mokaev won’t feel bad that he refused to tap out, especially considering the way he stormed back to then get the win and remain undefeated in his career.
“It is worth it,” Mokaev said. “Now I would have my heart will be in more pain than actually the knee [if I tapped]. I know it’s hard for me to walk or anything to do. I have two floors in our hours and I couldn’t get up to the second floor since I got back to my house. But I think it’s worth it.
“An injury can recover. People say he will never be back the same again, all this. If my heart is still strong after that night, I will be back.”
Mokaev also responded to Filho’s claims that he actually felt the Dagestani native tap out several times during the fight, which came separate from the kneebar attempt.
“[Mokaev tapped] at least three times,” Filho told MMA Fighting. “I felt him tapping on my back like he was hiding, with malice. There was another situation I went for the guillotine and then attacked his injured shoulder, he tapped and I loosened it up a little bit.
“I was looking at the referee the entire time. The kneebar, I felt him tapping with his foot and the referee asked him, ‘Tap?’ I loosened it, and he was able to twist his knee a little bit.”
Mokaev scoffed at those comments and pointed out that no submission applied by Filho came closer to finishing than the kneebar and he refused to tap out so why would he just quit in another moment when he wasn’t in nearly as much danger?
“Listen, if I didn’t tap to my knee do you think I would tap to the guillotine?” Mokaev said. “The guillotine wasn’t even locked. How the hell people actually believe I would tap to his guillotine? They can put me to sleep but basically his foot was in my boxers and he said sorry, sorry and he stopped and I said all good, let’s go. That’s what I said.
“Come on, man. He wants a rematch. I respect this guy. I don’t know why he say this, I got upset actually because I gave him so much respect that I don’t give to anyone. I see he carries a bible before the walkout and I’m like this guy is religious, he came here, just fought for his family, I give him respect, a warm welcome in the U.K. When he says this it’s not nice to be honest. He lost, lose like a man.”