UFC Fight Night 204 will be the debuting stage for one of the most anticipated coming fighters of 2022 when Muhammad Mokaev meets Cody Durden. Mokaev, dubbed “The Punisher” is a BRAVE CF alumni, with a total record of 6-0-1. However, the smallness of this number is deceiving, as early in his career Mokaev became one of the most successful amateur champions of all time by compiling 23 straight amateur wins by the age of 20. After defeating Blaine O’Driscoll, of SBG Ireland last September, Mokaev received the call to the UFC and will look to make the most of the opportunity.
Standing in his way is Cody Durden, a brash fighter from Covington, Georgia who after going 0-1-1 in the UFC, put on the performance of his UFC career by beating Qileng Aori in a hard-fought back and forth battle last November. The fight demonstrated the toughness of the American, and the scrappiness needed to work his way out of tough situations and into dominant ones. With an even 1-1-1 in the UFC, a win over the budding prospect Mokaev would mean Durdan finally sets himself on a winning streak and on route to building up his UFC legacy.
Muhammad Mokaev will come in as the heavy favorite at -290 against Cody Durden.
- Mokaev: -290
- Durden: +235
Cody Durden is a well-rounded and high-output fighter. His strikes are not the most technical and crisp but they serve to overwhelm his opponents and provide the openings he needs to shoot for the takedown. Typically he likes to put his foot on the gas at the opening bell and he favors a lead hand approach to his boxing. Most dominantly you will see Durden fight behind his jab, on which he will double up and then follow up with either a hook or overhand off of the same side. He mixes these in with a very heavy lowkick game as well. Ultimately, however, these strikes are used to back his opponents up and draw respect from their guard, if he can get his opponents to react or even better cover-up for a moment, he will instantly shoot in.
Durden is a highly committed fighter, and he pursues his attempts very strongly whether it’s striking or wrestling. The upside is, he often is able to push past the sprawl and secure very strong tight wrestling positions when he shoots, the downside is if timed wrong and he does get shucked off he can end up fully off-balanced and out of position. His approach is very much a high risk reward when it comes to his use of techniques. If he can get his opponents down, he tends to look to take the back. He will be relentless in his pursuit of this position but once he secures hooks he becomes far more patient, not rushing any submissions but maintaining position, winning on scoring and time while he comfortably works to secure the neck.
Likewise, Mokaev is also a dominant grappler and someone who hunts for the back. However, starting on the feet, Mokaev is much more mobile and slick. One of his biggest strengths as a fighter is his confidence in reversals, he will strike in order to draw out his opponent’s takedown attempts because he almost always succeeds in defending, reversing, and ending up on top. This security allows him to freely kick on the feet, especially top the body and legs, while utilizing light foot style with a lot of movement and feints. Behind his kicks, especially to the body, Mokaev has his most successful striking when he exits his combinations with a stiff right straight. Typically he pressures forward and then explodes into range especially if his opponent backs into the cage.
Other than his innate ability with reversals, Mokaev’s other greatest strength is the fluidity with which he transitions from shooting double legs to circling to the back. It’s seamless and makes it excruciatingly difficult for his opponents to decipher where to defend when he gets deep on their legs. If he forces through to top position, he usually looks to triangle the legs and scooch his way towards mount. Once far enough, punches for his opponents to give up a side so that Mokaev can readjust his hips and take the back anyway. Regardless, his two most common grappling routes end on the back.
Ultimately I believe that Mokaev is technically better on the feet, and although both are solid wrestlers, Mokaev’s transitional wrestling sets him apart. Durdon has a better cardio and endurance game so should they engage on the feet for extended time I think that Mokaev’s success slowly drops, but if he wants to put Durden on the mat it’s far more likely than the other way around. I see Mokaev able to win out exchanges striking and then ultimately taking Durdens back and finishing him.
Prediction: Muhammad Mokaev to win
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.