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Muhammad Mokaev: The refugee set for MMA stardom discusses signing with the UFC and inspiring the next generation

MMA star Muhammad Mokaev talks to Sky Sports about signing with the UFC, his background as a refugee and how he hopes to inspire a new generation in mixed martial arts.

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Wigan's Muhammad Mokaev says he wants to 'inspire the younger generation' after signing a UFC contract

Muhammad Mokaev is not your typical mixed martial artist.

The 21-year-old, who recently signed with the UFC, arrived in the UK as a refugee aged 12, and has fought his way up through the ranks, inside and outside the cage.

Boasting a 5-0 record, 'The Punisher', who was born in Dagestan, has become one of the youngest fighters on Dana White's books. And he could be set for a March debut in London.

"I'm feeling good. There are too many messages, too many social media things going on. But I'm still practising every morning, every night. It doesn't get me distracted," he told Sky Sports, reflecting on his new deal with the UFC.

"This hype, people said has been around for a long time, from my debut. Of course it was slowly building, even when I won world championships, there were so many messages like this.

"I got used to it already. This is not my final achievement. My final achievement is the UFC belt. At the moment, I'm still chasing my dream. It's not enough just signing for the UFC. I have to bring the results.

"I always knew, from a kid...I knew I was going to get there. But it's not enough just to get there, [enjoy] all the hype and then get battered. I want to make a statement.

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"I want to show the young generation that you can achieve from nothing, without huge support. Just through your hard work."

He says that a difficult upbringing has strengthened his mental resolve.

"I believe that has made me mentally stronger. Not competition. Of course competition has made me stronger, but I think this has made me stronger mentally and make myself stay calm and be a little bit more humble," he outlined.

"Life, even at the below level, you can reach the top.

"That's what I want to show, at some point in my life in 2015, I was thinking, what I am I doing? Existing? What am I doing in this life? Benefits of £5 a day? School?

"Even I remember on non-school-uniform day, I didn't want to go because I didn't have stuff to wear properly. It was hard for me. I went through crazy times. My mum passed away in 2012. So many things were going on.

"I want to show people that you can come to the country without [the] language...You can do anything!"

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Mokaev says he has become 'mentally stronger' as a result of the challenges he has faced in his life

And having made the UK his home, he is proud to fly the flag:

"I will lift the British flag, because my life changed [here].

"I represent them all the way. I'm going to bring the UFC belt to the UK, and become the youngest UFC [champion]."

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