UFC star Muhammad Mokaev calls out Alexandre Pantoja as he looks to follow in Tom Aspinall's footsteps

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Muhammad Mokaev continued his winning streak in Las Vegas.

Muhammad Mokaev has earned the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Tom Aspinall and become Greater Manchester's next UFC champion. 

“The Punisher” defended his unbeaten record on Saturday night in Las Vegas with a gruelling 29-28 unanimous decision victory over flyweight rival Alex Perez.

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While many expected the finish that Mokaev himself had predicted pre-fight, a win over former title challenger Perez, 31, is undoubtedly the most notable win of the young Brit’s career.  Mokaev’s sixth-straight UFC victory earns him the longest active win streak in the flyweight division and could set up a thrilling title fight with current champion Alexandre Pantoja.

After his victory, the Wiganer took to the microphone to call out the champion: “Hey, 6-0 in the UFC, four finishes, UFC 301, 10 weeks, I’m ready to fight for the belt.”

But the young Brit has revealed that he had been taking antibiotics to treat a serious illness right up until the morning of the fight. Speaking immediately after his victory, he revealed: “To be honest, I was very sick this morning, but I have the best team in the world and can’t just say that I am sick.”

He took to the social media platform X, formerly Twitter,  to share further details and graphic images of the infections, hitting back at fans discrediting his performance.

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He said: “Throwing up early morning 7:45, fight was 2pm. 4 staph infections 3 weeks out. Antibiotics killed my immune system. I see some haters talking s*** about my performance but you don’t see what we as fighters going through!”

UFC 301 is in Rio de Janeiro – the hometown of the champion – on May 4 and Pantoja is expected to defend his belt atop the main card. Should 23-year-old Mokaev be given the title shot, he will have the opportunity to become the second youngest UFC champion in the history of the sport, only behind greatest-of-all-time Jon Jones.

Mokaev – a Dagestani refugee – moved to Wigan with his father at just 12 years old shortly after his mother passed away. Now he will look to match Atherton’s Aspinall who became UFC interim heavyweight champion in November, only the third British fighter to win one of the big prizes in Dana White’s promotion. 

Birmingham’s Leon Edwards currently holds the welterweight world title, while Clitheroe’s Michael Bisping held the middleweight title in 2016 and 2017, enjoying many of the biggest nights of his career in Manchester.

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