UFC 286: Muhammad Mokaev survives deep kneebar, punishes Jafel Filho en route to 10-0 record

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18: Muhammad Mokaev of Russia prepares to fight Jafel Filho of Brazil in a flyweight fight during the UFC 286 event at The O2 Arena on March 18, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Muhammad Mokaev shows off his flexibility ahead of his fight versus Jafel Filho on Saturday at UFC 286 in London. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Muhammad Mokaev’s nickname is “The Punisher,” and he’s proven he can dish it out en route to a 10-0 pro MMA start and a ranking of 12th in the UFC’s flyweight division.

But while Mokaev dealt out his share of punishment Saturday in his third-round submission victory over Jafel Filho on the preliminary card of UFC 286 at the sold-out O2 Arena in London, England, it was his toughness that had everyone talking when it was over.

Filho caught Mokaev in a kneebar in the third round and appeared to have it locked in deep. The grimace on Mokaev’s face told a lot of the story. The logical move at that point would have been to tap so as not to sustain a serious injury to his left knee.

But Mokaev, who was a -900 favorite at BetMGM and one of the UFC’s elite prospects, kept fighting. He pulled his way out of the kneebar, though he clearly sustained some damage.

Seconds later, he caught Filho in a rear naked choke and got the submission at 4:32. Mokaev has been on a roll since joining the UFC, but Saturday’s submission took him to another level given the way he was able to survive one of the most dangerous holds in the sport.

Mokaev was limping as he got up and even after he got the tap, he struggled to climb atop the cage to celebrate his win in front of the home crowd.

That toughness, though, earned him the respect of the fans and, most importantly, his peers.