In the main event at UFC on Fuel TV 9 live from Stockholm, former Strikeforce and Dream champion Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2 MMA; UFC Debut) faces Ilir Latifi (7-2(1) MMA; UFC Debut). This special 3 round Light Heavyweight fight closes out the 6 fight main card on Fuel. UFC on Fuel TV 9 airs live from Stockholm, Sweden this Saturday, April 6, on Fuel with the main card beginning at an early start time of 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. PT.
To cap off the night of action, Swedish fans have a chance to cheer on their rising young prospect... Ilir Latifi. Which, of course, was not the original plan. This event was supposed to be a homecoming for Light Heavyweight contender in waiting Alexander Gustafsson, but a cut forced him out of the fight. Dana White swore up and down that it wasn't so, but sorry Swedish fans, The Mauler is out. After a weird April Fool's Day joke from Wanderlei Silva saying that he was taking the fight, the UFC announced that instead Latifi got the call up. It's a move that plays to the local crowd, but really tanks any interest from the home audience, especially after Wand got our hopes up.
How do these two stack up?
Mousasi: 27 years old | 6'1" | 76" reach
Latifi: 29 years old | 5'8"
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
A few years ago, Gegard Mousasi was considered one of the hottest fighters outside of the UFC. He was the Dream Middleweight (and, eventually, Light Heavyweight) champion, plus the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion, easily dispatching the likes of Jacare, Babalu, and Mark Hunt. But in 2010 he lost a lopsided decision, and his Strikeforce title, to King Mo and he's struggled to regain that momentum ever since. He's 5-0-1 since the Mo loss, but his most high profile fights for many fans are that loss to Mo and a surprising draw against a mostly shot Keith Jardine. He has a wide range of skills and the potential to be one of the best in the world - the question is, how focused is he on getting there?
Ilir Latifi gets here through very unlikely circumstances. The training partner of Gustafsson got the call up just a few days ago, emerging from obscurity in the European regional scene to main event a UFC show. Latifi is a 5 year pro who has fought primarily in European events including Rumble of the Kings and United Glory. His most notable opponent is Bellator's Emanuel Newton, who defeated Latifi in 2011. Latifi is more of a wrestler, who will likely look to ground and pound Mousasi here.
Why should you care?
This fight definitely is not Mousasi vs. Gustafsson, but I'm still interested to see if Mousasi can get something going in the UFC. If not, then welcome Latifi to the big leagues.