The UFC Fuel 9 main event received a major change when Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson was ruled out due to a nasty cut above his eye, per Franklin McNeil and Josh Gross of ESPN.
Although fans would have loved to see the Mauler in action against Gegard Mousasi, he has been replaced by Ilir Latifi.
The 29-year-old Swedish light heavyweight stands 5'8" and carries the nickname Sledgehammer.
He will be making his UFC debut against Mousasi, who is also fighting in the UFC for the first time. The man they call the Dreamcatcher is one of the best fighters to come to the UFC from Strikeforce.
He hasn't lost a fight since April 2010 and carries an impressive MMA record of 33-3-2 overall. He had hoped to make his debut against a young, highly touted fighter like Gustafsson, but he'll get Latifi instead.
While he obviously doesn’t carry the same name recognition as Gustafsson, he does offer some intrigue as an unknown commodity.
He has a record of 7-2 and with the fight taking place at the Ericcson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, he will likely have his share of supporters.
Get to know the Sledgehammer:
Per Bleacher Report’s own Jeremy Botter, Mousasi is looking for a shot at a title or at least a meeting with Lyoto Machida. But first, he must deal with Latifi.
Here is how you can catch this fight and the rest of the Fuel 9 card.
When: Saturday, April 6, at 2 p.m. ET
Where: Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden
TV: Fuel TV
Live Stream: Preliminaries on Facebook
Main Card on Fuel
- Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2) vs. Ilir Latifi (7-2)
- Ross Pearson (14-6) vs. Ryan Couture (6-1)
- Matt Mitrione (5-2) vs. Phil DeFries (9-2)
- Brad Pickett (22-7) vs. Mike Easton (13-2)
- Diego Brandao (15-8) vs. Pablo Garza (12-3)
- Akira Corrasani (10-3) vs. Robbie Peralta (16-3)
Preliminary Fights on Facebook
- Reza Madadi (12-3) vs. Michael Johnson (12-7)
- Tor Troeng (15-4-1) vs. Adam Cella (4-0)
- Chris Spang (5-1) vs. Adlan Amagov (11-2-1)
- Marcus Brimage (6-1) vs. Conor McGregor (12-2)
- Benny Alloway (12-3) vs. Ryan LaFlare (7-0)
- Michael Kuiper (12-1) vs. Tom Lawlor (8-5)
- Papy Abedi (8-2) vs. Basem Yousef (8-1)
* indicates more information below
Matchup Coverage Weight Class Hype Favorite - Per Fight Bet Network My Pick Benny Allaway vs. Ryan LaFlare Welterweights Low LaFlare -175 LaFlare Marcus Brimage vs. Connor McGregor Lightweight Moderate McGregor -160 Brimage Michael Kuiper vs. Tom Lawlor Middleweight Moderate Lawlor -175 Lawlor Papy Abedi vs. Besam Yousef Welterweights Low Abed -127 Abedi Chris Spang vs. Adlan Amagov Welterweights Low Amagov -155 Amagov Tor Troneg vs. Adam Cella Middleweight Low Troeng -215 Troeng Reza Madadi vs. Anthony Johnson Lightweight Moderate Johnson -225 Madadi* Akira Corassani vs. Robbie Peralta Fuel TV Featherweight Moderate Peralta -333 Corassani
vs. Pablo Garza
Fuel TV Featherweight Moderate Brandao -200 Brandao Brad Pickett vs. Mike Easton Fuel TV Bantamweight High Pickett -149 Pickett* Matt Mitrione vs. Phil DeFries Fuel TV Heavyweight High Mitrione -302 Mitrione* Ross Pearson vs. Ryan Couture Fuel TV Lightweight High Pearson -376 Couture Gegard Mousasi
vs. Ilir Latifi
Fuel TV Light Heavyweight High -1000 Mousasi*
Johnson Will Fall to Madadi
Anthony "The Menace" Johnson has been anything but menacing in his latest bouts. He was dominated by Myles Jury at UFC 155, and he seems to falling into a very non-aggressive pattern.
He doesn't have big power and he appears content with simply surviving on the ground.
Madadi lost a controversial split-decision to Cristiano Marcello at UFC 153, but prior to that he had won seven fights in a row. I see him applying the same type of pressure to Johnson that Jury did.
Johnson won't be knocked out, but expect to see him bloodied again from top control and ground and pound from Madadi.
Easton's Intimidation Factor is Gone
For a while Mike "The Hulk" Easton's aggression and big-time KO power was intimidating many bantamweights, but I think Raphael Assuncao's shut-out victory over Easton at UFC on Fox 5 may have created the blueprint for stopping the Hulk.
Assuncao's movement and unpredictable striking gave Easton a problem.
The veteran Pickett will do his best to employ this strategy, but he also packs quite a punch himself. He's coming off a thrilling split-decision defeat to Eddie Wineland at UFC 155, but he will rebound with a win over Easton.
Mitrione will Be the Latest To Blast De Fries
I've never been overly impressed with Mitrione, but I've been even less impressed with De Fries. He looked scared to death against Todd Duffee at UFC 155.
Duffee is more athletic than Mitrione, but they both use a similar all-out assaulting style. De Fries has been vulnerable to the big powerful striker in his career.
Duffee knocked him out in the first round and Stipe Miocic put him to sleep in the first 43 seconds of their fight at UFC on Fuel 1. Mitrione will join that list.
Home-Field Advantage Won't Help Latifi
Despite getting an opportunity to make his UFC debut in front of his hometown crowd, Latifi will be defeated by Mousasi.
UFC fans that aren't aware of Mousasi's ability will learn first hand on Saturday night why he is highly regarded in the sport. He is a very well-balanced fighter, and in this fight he will use his five-inch height advantage to tag Latifi from distance.
Even if the fight goes to the mat, Mousasi is more than capable of finishing his opponent there as well. He has 11 submission victories in his career.
This should be a nice showcase for him.
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