LONDON – Jake Hadley has a solid flyweight test in front of him Saturday, but his first test might be one of will power.
Hadley (9-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) takes on Malcolm Gordon (14-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) on the UFC 286 prelims at The O2 in London. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+.
But in the buildup to that fight, Hadley has heard plenty from Muhammad Mokaev (8-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who fights later on the prelims against Jafel Filho. Mokaev on Wednesday detailed a run-in with Hadley at the fighter hotel and said Hadley wasn’t interested in a confrontation and stood behind his father.
But Hadley’s version of the story is a little different.
“The kid’s just an idiot,” Hadley said at the UFC 286 media day. “I mean, he’s coming over to me trying to fight me in the hotel – but you don’t want to fight me in the cage. He’s fighting a debut guy. He was like, ah, I won’t fight you because you lost us against Allan (Nascimento) and all this. But then he wants to fight me in the hotel. Like, what is this guy doing? He’s a total idiot. If there’s such a problem with me, then why don’t you just fight me in a cagefight? We can’t be fighting here. People are going to break it up. People are are going to get in trouble. What’s are going to happen if I sock him in his face when he comes and closes the distance? I’ve already had staff complain about me before, so they’re going to be complaining, ‘Oh, you knocked Mokaev out’ in the back and they’re all going to moan at me.
“I’m the one who’s painted as the bad guy all the while, but yet he’s coming over to me. He’s like, ‘Bro, relax – back up, bro.’ … If there’s so much of a problem, then either fight me or turn up at my gym or something – because he’s in Birmingham all the while, anyway – and I’ll f8cking bang you out there, no problem about it. But why are you trying to fight me in the hotel? It makes no sense. Then these fights are going to be off, then my fight’s going to be off and it’s going to be we’ve trained all this time for nothing. (He’s a) dumb kid.”
Hadley said the animosity between the two of them stems from their shared history in the U.K. MMA space, including when they were amateurs.
“I’ve had multiple (incidents) from the years, because obviously he was an amateur when I was amateur,” Hadley said. “He said, ‘I’m going to hit you with a chair,’ ‘I’m going to f*cking do this and I’m going to do that.’ When you threaten violence when you see somebody, it puts you on your toes. You’re like, ‘All right, if he’s going to come at me, I can’t let him close the distance. Boom. He’s going to be out of there.’ So I expect the security to be a bit more on point”
Hadley won his way into the UFC through Dana White’s Contender Series in 2021, but lost his 2022 promotional debut to Nascimento in an upset. But he bounced back this past November with a second-round submission of Carlos Candelario.
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Check out Hadley’s full media day interview in the video above.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 286.