Junior Athlete of The Year Nominee: Muhammad Mokaev (2019 Amateur MMA Awards)

Leading UK prospect Muhammad Mokaev was the outright most successful junior amateur competitor of 2018 – 2019.

At age 18, Mokaev was already turning heads as an undefeated a domestic prodigy (6-0) boasting a major online following. In 2018 he stepped up to the international platform of the IMMAF World Championships, the premier proving ground for amateur MMA.

Contesting the men’s junior bantamweight division of the IMMAF | WMMAA Junior Worlds, Mokaev earned the gold medal with a quartet of triumphs, proving himself beyond the confines of British MMA, besting a diverse lineup of styles and talent from Russia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Japan, taking each hurdle at minimal notice in the testing day-by-day tournament.

Mokaev is a picture of confidence, charging in to the World Championships final

The team GB wrestler utilized his bread and butter skillset to shut out all comers. While Mexico’s Ismael Zamora produced a compelling glimmer of resistance, Mokaev ultimately scored yet another UD, perhaps benefiting from the helpful reminder to never feel too settled on the world stage. What followed was a shut-out performance of takedowns secured at will against his fellow finalist, Japan’s Reo Yamaguchi, in the gold medal decider.

Mokaev and Yamaguchi would solidify themselves as leaders junior bantamweight ranks and two of the most consistent standouts of the age 18-20 level, meeting for a second time in the 2019 European Open final.

Yamaguchi showed greater readiness in their second clash, landing significant strikes and showcasing takedown defense against arguably the best wrestler in amateur MMA. Yet still, Mokaev had enhanced abilities of his own to showcase following the world championships and brilliantly adapted to the resilience of his rival to earn the European Open title.

Having defeated Ireland’s Abanoub Fares and Russia’s Batir Sharukhanov, Mokaev defeated Japan’s Reo Yamaguchi in the 2019 European Open final

To date, the greatness of Mokaev appears to have no parallel. It was expected that Mokaev would be tested by the likes of Russia, a front runner of the national team rankings, yet the UK-MMA product surpassed his otherwise dominant Russian rivals with flying colors.

Despite being the most successful junior MMA athlete of the past year, it is Mokaev’s patience, awareness and complete understanding for utilizing his amateur tenure, that sets him apart. Time and again Moakev expresses that he will not be tempted to turn pro while opportunities for development remain vast, leaving no stone unturned.

Stakeholders of the professional game will be watching on as Moakev, representing Team England, aims to defend his junior world title at the 2019 World Championships. The senior ranks most likely await Mokaev in 2020, for what may come to be a defining master plan of long term amateur progression, brilliantly outlined, step-by-step, towards undeniable professional prominence.

2018 Junior World Championships: Men’s bantamweight medalists.

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) host the 2019 Amateur MMA Awards on Thursday 14 November during the 2019 IMMAF | WMMAA Unified World Championships in Manama.

Junior Athlete of The Year nominations include:

  • Muhammad Mokaev (UK)
    2018 World Championships: gold
    2019 European Open: gold

  • Shamsutdin Makhmudov (Russia)
    2018 World Championships: gold
    2019 European Open: gold

  • Reo Yamaguchi (Japan)
    2018 World Championships: silver
    2019 European Open: silver

  • Megan Morris (UK)
    2018 World Championships: gold

  • Mahboob Khan Mohammed (India)
    2018 World Championships: gold

For more information on award categories and nominates, click HERE.

By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer: Jorden Curran

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