LONDON — Charles Johnson thinks Muhammad Mokaev will shoot for takedowns early in their fight.
Johnson (11-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) takes on Mokaev (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 208 event, taking place at The O2 in London. The card airs on ESPN+.
Mokaev is known for his elite fighting, but Johnson sees an overzealous approach from him and plans to make him pay on the feet.
“He’s young and he fights that way sometimes,” Johnson told MMA Junkie. “People say he fights like a veteran, but he fights with his ego. He shows up, he’s a pressure fighter and I think there are things in the fight that we can take advantage of. I expect him to show up, but I expect him to try to stand by my side and it only takes one hit.
“So I feel like if something doesn’t go his way, he’ll start to be very grapple-heavy. People go where they’re comfortable. When they’re in trouble, they go to which is comfortable, so I expect that to happen very soon in this fight.
Mokaev is one of the most touted prospects in the sport. An amateur champion, Mokaev burst onto the UFC scene in March when he knocked out Cody Durden in less than a minute. Johnson knows Mokaev and even remembers training with him a few years ago in Thailand.
“I know him,” Johnson said. “He’s MMA, he’s a good wrestler, he’s a good martial artist and he has a lot of amateur experience so I know his history and we spent very little time together on Tiger Muay mats. Thai.. So I’ve seen it before.
“He was a good wrestler, a good grappler, very control-oriented, and we did a bit of stand-up and it wasn’t too much for anyone to hang their hat on. I got the better of him, but it’s been two years, so we’ll see.
“I think he’s doing very well for his age. I think he’s doing very well, but he’s doing what he has to do when you’ve been prepared for it. He’s been prepared to be what you ‘he is now. So I think he’s doing exactly what he should be doing, and it takes a lot of hard work and effort. So I respect him, but I’m not surprised by what he’s doing. This what he is doing is what he should be doing.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s Event Center for UFC Fight Night 208.