Mokaev is 23 years old with 10 wins and one no contest in his career, with each of his last four victories coming inside the Octagon. He’s navigated tough spots in each of his last two outings, rallying to earn third-round submission finishes to keep things moving in a positive direction, but now he’s stepping in against his first ranked opponent, which is a brand-new test for the ultra-talented rising star.
This is a fascinating matchup because Mokaev said after his UFC 280 win over Malcolm Gordon that he needed to be more serious and focused, and then came dangerously close to getting kneebarred by Jafel Filho five months later, and now he steps in with Elliott, the kind of guy that will ruin your night if you’re not locked in from the outset.
This is the point where scores of promising, unbeaten fighters have stumbled in the past, so it’ll be interesting to see how Mokaev handles this test or if Elliott will collect the biggest win of his UFC career.
Magomed Ankalaev vs Johnny Walker
A month before the vacant 205-pound title goes up for grabs at Madison Square Garden, Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker face off in a crucial bout that will determine which of them is on the short list of potential title challengers heading into next year.
Ankalaev hasn’t fought since battling Jan Blachowicz to a draw last December at UFC 282, which resulted in the title remaining vacant. The 31-year-old Russian is 18-1-1 overall, unbeaten in his last 10 appearances, and profiles as one of the most complete and dangerous talents in the division, though he’s struggled to dial up his best efforts in the biggest spots at times.