Muhammad Mokaev. Photo from Twitter: @muhammadmokaev

MANCHESTER–Dagestan-born Muhammad Mokaev was one of the shining stars at Tanko Fighting Championships 3, capturing the promotion’s amateur flyweight title at just 16-years-old. 

“The Black Tiger” put on a splendid performance at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, dominating Liam Gittins en route to a unanimous decision win and his first piece of MMA championship gold.

TFC 3 saw a whole bunch of amateur talents impressing, such as Jamie Kelly, Lawrence James, but it was Mokaev’s title victory which really captured the attention of many inside the prestigious warehouse venue. 

Training out of Team Kaobon, Mokaev showcased his superb wrestling pedigree – something associated with Dagestani fighters – slamming and smothering Gittins for large parts of their five round fight, before claiming that his ‘wrestling is number one’ speaking to MMA Plus post-fight.

The BJJ blue belt moved to the UK from Dagestan in 2012 and explained how his past has shaped him into the fighter he is today, as well as the importance of his homeland. 

“I have good, high spirit because I [was] born as a fighter,” began Mokaev, wearing his papakha with pride post-fight at TFC 3. “We have really tough life over there, you know. Some people survive, some people not and you fight as you five years old to wrestle on the street, on the ground no mats no nothing.

“You have to promote where you come from because Dagestan not very big place but we have a lot of fighters over there, we just need good managers, we need VISA,” he continued. 

On Saturday night, February 11, Mokaev became the first fighter under the Tanko banner to hold gold around their waist, a huge feat for anyone, let alone a 16-year-old. 

Training with the likes of Mike Grundy (a Commonwealth wrestling bronze medallist) at Team Kaobon, it’s not hard to see why Mokaev continues to improve in that department. The young starlet staked his allegiance to Kaobon and explained why loyalty is important for a young fighter. 

“Just Kaobon, never changed place. I start Kaobon and I’m going to finish at team Kaobon, because you have to be loyal to your team. 

“People will look after you [and you have to] be back loyal to them, because they spend time, everything with you and in my gym, you grow a kid for example, you grow a kid when he is like six, seven years old and he move to different family for example, how you gonna feel you know? It’s the same as, a team is a family.” 

As the two-time Team GB wrestler continues to make a name for himself inside the cage, there are high hopes for Mokaev in the coming years, but for now, expect him to collect a nice handful of amateur regional titles before turning professional.