The UFC returns to London for the first time in three years on Saturday.
Before we get to the main event of the evening, we take a look at three undefeated fighters who hope to keep their ‘O’ at the O2.
Muhammad Mokaev (5-0-0, 0-0-0 UFC)
Fighting out of Manchester, England, by way of Dagestan, Muhammad Mokaev went 23-0 as an amateur before turning pro. His amateur record included back-to-back junior bantamweight titles at the IMMAF World Championships in 2018 and 2019.
In 2020, he turned pro, and has remained undefeated with three stoppages in five professional bouts. Most recently, Mokaev fought for Brave CF in September 2021, where he secured a submission victory via rear-naked choke in the second round against Blaine O’Driscoll.
Mokaev signed with the UFC in mid-November and has made it a goal to become the youngest UFC champion in the promotion’s history. “I’m really excited, but this is not my final destination,” Mokaev said in an interview with MMA Junkie. “This is part of my journey to become the greatest so my dream is to become the youngest UFC champion. I’m excited, but at the same time, it’s not my final destination.”
Mokaev’s journey to the top will start with a UFC London bout against Cody Durden (12-3-1) on Saturday. Durden got the attention of Mokaev after making a controversial comment about his opponent Aoriqileng during a post-fight interview in November.
Jack Shore (15-0-0, 4-0-0 UFC)
Jack Shore has kept his undefeated streak intact since joining the UFC in 2019. In his first two bouts, Shore had matching rear-naked choke finishes. Shore then earned a decision victory over Hunter Azure at UFC on ABC 2. Most recently, he defeated Liudvik Sholinian in September.
Shore, who fights out of Abertillery, Wales made his professional debut in March 2016. Prior to the UFC, Shore was a mainstay with the Cage Warriors promotion amassing 10 victories under the banner culminating in winning the bantamweight championship at Cage Warriors 100. Six months later, it was announced that Shore had signed with the UFC.
Shore was originally scheduled to face fellow undefeated fighter Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC London. That fight was scrapped in late December. Timur Valiev stepped in to face Shore on Saturday while Nurmagomedov went on to defeat Brian Kelleher at UFC 272.
Ilia Topuria (11-0-0, 3-0-0 UFC)
Ilia Topuria entered the UFC in October 2020 after starting his professional career at 8-0 under multiple promotions including Cage Warriors and Brave CF. Topuria earned a unanimous decision win in his promotional debut against Youssef Zalal. Since then, Topuria has added two more victories to his resume; back-to-back first round TKO wins over submission specialists Damon Jackson and Ryan Hall.
After his win over Ryan Hall, Topuria took the #15 spot on the UFC’s featherweight rankings, but was already looking ahead to the Top 10. “I think someone in the top 10,” Topuria said when asked about who he’ll fight next in an interview with LowkickMMA. “Now everyone is trying to escape from me, that’s normal. I understand that, but I think I’m going to get to fight someone in the top 10.” ‘El Matador’ will have to wait a little longer to get his hands on someone in the Top 10, but faces a tough test in Jai Herbert on Saturday.
Recently Topuria made headlines after having an altercation with Paddy Pimblett. Topuria took a swing at Pimblett while in London for fight week after Pimblett made disparaging remarks about Georgians on Twitter. While born in Halle Westfalen, Germany, Topuria’s parents are Georgian and Topuria relocated to the country at seven years old.
If both Paddy Pimblett and Ilia Topuria are victorious at UFC London, it’s possible the promotion could capitalize on the animosity between the two.
Which undefeated fighter(s) will keep their ‘O’ when it’s all said and done Saturday night?
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images