The elite 22-year-old flyweight prospect, Muhammad “The Punisher” Mokaev (8-0-1; 2-0 in the UFC), will re-enter the octagon after putting forth another dominating performance his last time out. Attempting to halt the hype train around Mokaev is Malcolm Gordon (14-5; 2-2 in the UFC).
For Gordon, overcoming the odds in the UFC is quickly becoming a staple for him, as he began his UFC journey 0-2 but has since battled back to a 2-2 record, both wins against opponents with interesting potential. The recent success of each parlayed with a combined 73% finish rate makes for a highly exciting matchup, with the winner likely earning himself a “Fight of the Night” bonus.
Mokaev vs. Gordon will feature on the UFC 280 preliminary card on Saturday. Fight fans in the United States can watch this fight live on ESPN+ before tuning into the ESPN+ PPV later in the afternoon to watch Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev, Aljamain Sterling vs. TJ Dillashaw, Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley, and more.
Mokaev opened as a -650 favorite but has since claimed to be a whopping -1428 favorite over Gordon.
Muhammad Mokaev is one of the most electrifying fighters currently in the UFC. His youthful exuberance combined with jaw-dropping talent makes him one of the most exciting young prospects across the UFC and is one of the young fighters who already have future title holders written all over him.
Simply put, Mokaev is an incredibly talented fighter. On the feet, his striking is fast, powerful, and throws a variety of looks at his opponent, thus making him an extremely difficult puzzle to contend with. To this point, Mokaev can use elite athleticism with dangerous offense to simply attack his opponent without any fear whatsoever. This carefree attitude of fully trusting in his offense may not fully work against the best of the best, but to this point, Mokaev’s jaw-dropping talent is simply too much for the quality of opponents he has faced to date to handle.
The aggression Mokaev employs on the feet extends beyond trust in his striking skill alone, as Mokaev can fight freely fully knowing he can wrestle at any moment he so chooses. This wrestling was on full display in his last fight, as he routinely took down a solid grappler – landed 12 of 26 takedowns. Once down, Mokaev seeks to find the back of his opponent and is willing to forego control over positional risk because if he loses mat control, he can simply reset and shoot another takedown, fully trusting he can get it there once more. So, similarly to his striking, Mokaev grapples with a sense of freedom and confidence that makes him extremely dangerous to contend with given his skills, to this point, are simply better than that of his opponents.
Having danger both on the feet and on the mat can be associated with Malcolm Gordon as well given he has 5 of his 14 wins by TKO/KO, and 6 of 14 by submission. While the splits are relatively even, Gordon himself would likely state that his greater value add is on the mat contrary to on the feet, but, given this fact, the power success he has with striking is exacerbated given his opponent is worrying about a takedown contrary to defending a particular strike – this is exactly what happened in his last fight, as Gordon won quite quickly by KO.
The difference for Gordon, between him and Mokaev, is that while Mokaev is an elite well-rounded fighter, Gordon has significant holes in his fight game on both the feet and mat. For striking, when Gordon falls in love with his hands too much, he has a tendency to stand too long, thus leading to getting caught by his opponent – 4 of his 5 losses stemming from KO. Whether it is his poor striking defense or a weak chin, Gordon has found defending average to above-average strikers quite difficult. For grappling, while Gordon has the skills to finish the fight, he has a difficult time getting it to the mat, as he has just a 25% takedown success rate and has defended 0% of takedowns throughout his time in the UFC. This inability to win in the wrestling department is a demonstrable flaw in his grappling attack, and if not cleaned up, will be a fatal flaw for him in this fight given that Mokaev is extremely talented at finding openings while shooting in on takedowns.
It comes to little surprise after seeing the odds that I fully anticipate Mokaev winning this fight. What may prove more beneficial, from a betting perspective, is that I expect Mokaev to win quite quickly given his advanced skills everywhere coupled with the significant defense flaws of Gordon, both on the feet and with defending sound grappling. Because of this expectation, I am confidently predicting that Mokaev will look flawless in this bout, and so long as he does not play with his food – which he rarely does given his affinity to dominate fights – he should get out of there with a win in the first round.
Bet: Mokaev to win in round one