With their hands tied by the Swedish MMA Federation, the Ultimate Fighting Championship was forced to remove Swedish fighter Alexander Gustafsson from the UFC on Fuel 9 main event. Gustafsson, a rising contender in the UFC light heavyweight division with a 15-1 record, including 7-1 inside the Octagon, was set to take on former Strikeforce champion, Gegard Mousasi. Instead, the main event slot will be filled by Ilir “The Sledgehammer” Latifi after Gustafsson suffered a cut during the Easter weekend that will not allow him to be sanctioned to fight.
Latifi, another Swedish born fighter, is 7-2 in his professional mixed martial arts career. In 2012, he competed three times and earned the win in each. His last loss was to Emanuel Newton, a current Bellator fighter. He is Greco-Roman wrestler and is a stocky light heavyweight. Latifi steps into the spot of Gustafsson with only a few days before the fight and will be challenging his toughest opponent to date.
Mousasi is one of the most established and respected fighters to come to the UFC from Strikeforce. He holds a 33-3-2 record and is 5-0-1 in his last six fights. He holds key victories in his career over Hector Lombard, Denis Kang, Mark Hunt, Renato Sobral, and Mike Kyle. He hasn’t lost since Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal took the Strikeforce light heavyweight title from him in April 2010 and before that, hadn’t lost since August 2006 when Akihiro Gono earned the submission win. He is 23-2-1 since the start of 2006 and is hoping to show the UFC fans what he can do. He has great skill in Judo, earning a black belt, and is an excellent kickboxer.
The odds makers are heavily in favor of Mousasi winning this fight. One betting book has Mousasi favored -1500, while Latifi is at +700.
UFC on Fuel 9 will emanate from Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. It will be held on April 5 and can be seen like on Fuel TV at 10 a.m. EST. Also on the card are fights between Ross Pearson and Ryan Couture in the lightweight division, Matt Mitrione and Phil De Fries in the heavyweight division, and a bantamweight fight between Brad Pickett and Mike Easton.
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