Gegard Mousasi may have left some unimpressed on Saturday, but he did exactly what he had to do when he faced Ilir Latifi—he won.
Big picture, Mousasi was in a no-win situation when he faced Latifi, a late replacement for his injured original opponent, Alexander Gustafsson. Win, and Mousasi accomplishes exactly what he was supposed to; lose, and a top-10 light heavyweight falls to a fighter who was unknown to all but the most hardcore fans before he was signed to replace Gustafsson.
So Mousasi did what he needed to do, he played it safe and mostly kept himself out of risky predicaments on his way to a unanimous-decision win. Oh yeah, he also accomplished this on a knee that is likely going to send him into surgery at some point in the near future (per Ken Pishna of
Following the fight, Mousasi had the following to say about how he approached his bout with Latifi (per, "I didn't want to take any risks. Had nothing to lose, so I fought smart."
Mousasi used his height and reach to keep Latifi at bay for most of the 15-minute bout, using a highly effective jab that left Latifi’s face a swollen and bloody mess by the end of the fight. In all, according to the FightMetric numbers, Mousasi landed 80 of 150 attempted strikes, most of which were snapping jabs.
The 6’1” Mousasi kept the 5’8” Latifi at distance, and Latifi’s numbers reflected that, as Latifi landed a mere 20 of 114 attempted strikes, only hitting double digits in that department in the third round when he landed 10 strikes.
The win may not have been pretty and it may not advance him up the rankings in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, but Mousasi won and he’ll live to fight another day in the UFC, even if that fight will be somewhat delayed due to injury.