Muhammad Mokaev doesn’t tap.
“The Punisher” hasn’t tapped in his undefeated (8-0) professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career nor his perfect (22-0) amateur run. Mokaev didn’t even tap at UFC 286 on Saturday night (March 18, 2023) when Jafel Filho had him caught in a fully-extended kneebar.
Instead, he somehow managed to pull his leg out of the submission and finish the fight moments later, locking in a rear-naked choke on Filho with 28 seconds left on the clock (watch highlights).
It was an exciting finish to a fight that proved Mokaev is as tough as they come, but it’s likely come with a steep price tag. The 22-year-old Flyweight is racing the clock to become UFC’s youngest champion, but he may have just cost himself one year on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.
On Sunday night, Mokaev shared some photos of the knee ... and it’s looking pretty messed up:
March 19, 2023
“When I won’t tap, what he would do , it was very interesting for me….” Mokaev wrote on Twitter. “The pain was crazy, he had metal groin guard, too. Respect to Jafel Filho!
“Seen some tweets saying, ‘You didn’t tap but you might risk to end your career!’” he added in another post. “I rather end my career without being quitter. I’m in crazy pain right now but if I would tap it would hurt my heart even more.
“I will do MRI tomorrow morning,” he concluded. “I hope it’s all good but I can’t walk at the moment but I’m still very happy with my performance.”
Now we know what Mokaev’s attitude is toward tapping, which just makes a moment in the first round where he seemed to tap while on top of Filho even stranger. Immediately after the fight, Muhammad admitted his shoulder was so injured coming into the bout that he couldn’t even put on a shirt.
Some wondered whether Filho squeezing his knees together in guard led to Mokaev tapping because of the injury:
Why did Muhammad Mokaev tap here? #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/t6Z4hZZYJd— Shakiel Mahjouri (@Shak_Fu) March 18, 2023
Mokaev denied he tapped during UFC 286’s post-fight press conference.
“No, no, no,” he said. “I did make a noise, so he squeezed more, got tight, but I was over his knees. If you look at the full guard, it was quite tight, but it wasn’t, I could still breathe. No, definitely, no.”
Does refusing to tap to that locked-in kneebar give Mokaev enough credibility to override what the video seems to show us? Let us know what you think in the comments, Maniacs.
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