After all the drama of Alexander Gustafsson’s cut unfolded, I initially thought that UFC on Fuel TV 9 would be one of the weakest UFC cards in recent memory, at least on paper. But taking a deeper look at things was perhaps cause for a more positive attitude, as Ilir Latifi might be one of the better stories we’ve heard about. He’s been calm and thankful for the opportunity in his pre-fight interviews. And let’s not forget that Latifi is a Swedish wrestling champion, and that would be the one skill I’d want to win this particular bout. Gegard Mousasi is a world-class striker, but if he’s had any weakness, it’s takedown defense. Let’s not forget that neither fighter has yet to step into the UFC Octagon. So, it’s been a wild week and this one’s for you, Anton. Ilir Latifi shocks the world with a grinding split decision.
I personally am going to have to go with a pretty straightforward prediction for the main event. I don't feel like Ilir Latifi has faced enough high-level competition to deal with a guy like Gegard Mousasi. Mousasi has a solid ground game, good wrestling and holds a 5-0 record in kickboxing. Although, I'm not sure if stand up will even be a factor here as I think Mousasi will ground the Swede and look to do damage from the top position. There is always a possibility of Latifi landing a bomb and, although Mousasi has never been KO'd, I've learnt to never count anyone out. All that being said, it is a cut-and-dry TKO for Mousasi in the 1st in my opinion. Bring on UFC On Fox 7!
I won't even pretend to know a single thing about Ilir Latifi, simply because I didn't until this week. With that said, I love underdogs and the mystery of a completely unknown fighter, both of which make this fight fairly intriguing. A quick search will tell you that Latifi is 7-2 against a handful of nobodies, although he DID go 3 full rounds with current Bellator tournament champion Emmanuel Newton, which has to count for something. Upon watching a few of his fights I'll also say that not only does he appear to be fairly durable, but he's got some solid wrestling and ground n' pound. Latifi's grappling is high level enough that if he closes the distance and nails the timing in this fight, he could technically negate Gegard's standup entirely and grind out an ugly/close fight. In fact I think that's what we'll see happen. I don't see Latifi winning, but I see this being much closer than most expect, with Mousasi squeaking out a close but unimpressive unanimous decision.