Gegard Mousasi Draws Gustafsson Training Partner for UFC on Fuel TV 9 Main Event

April 2, 2013
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Gegard Mousasi 478x270With Alexander Gustafsson sidelined due to a severe cut, his replacement will be a Sledgehammer, not an Axe Murderer.

Less than 24 hours after the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation made it official that Gustafsson would not be allowed to fight, UFC officials enlisted the next best 205-pound Swede, Gustafsson training partner Ilir Latifi, to fight Gegard Mousasi in Saturday’s UFC on Fuel TV 9 main event.

If you’re asking yourself who Ilir Latifi is, you’re probably not alone. Known in Sweden as one of the country’s top light heavyweights outside of Gustafsson, Latifi hasn’t spent much time in the limelight.

Latifi’s biggest wins have come over the likes of King of the Cage champion Tony Lopez and WEC veteran Jorge Oliveira. He will, however, receive the biggest opportunity of his career on the biggest stage in the mixed martial arts world, a UFC main event.

The fight came about when Gustafsson was declared ineligible just four days prior to the event slated for Ericsson Global Arena in Stockholm. That left very little time to find a replacement that would be prepared both physically and with the necessary travel documents to make it in time for the fight, leaving UFC officials to enlist a home grown talent.

Former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva on Monday talked himself up as Gustafsson’s replacement, but following several interviews and confirmations to news outlets, the Axe Murder later admitted his declarations were an April Fools’ Day related hoax.

UFC president Dana White had insisted as recently as Monday that the fight card had not changed, and that Gustafsson wanted to fight. Weekend statements by SMMAF president George Sallfeldt skeptical that Gustafsson could gain clearance came to a head on Tuesday when the sanctioning body’s medical board ruled that Gustafsson would not be allowed to fight.

Enter Latifi into a three-round main event bout with Mousasi.

Mousasi, like Latifi, is also making his UFC debut on Saturday, but his resume dwarfs that of the 7-2 Swede. Mousasi maintains a professional record of 33-3-2, has held the light heavyweight championship for both Strikeforce and Dream, and is largely regarded as one of the top 205-pound fighters in the world.

To be sure, it’s an obscure UFC main event, with two debuting fighters, but it is one built from circumstance due to timing and logistics.

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  • TheKaveman

    Wow. Epic fail.

    • Prince James

      Epic fail indeed.

      • Yes, a spelling mistake is epic. **** beowulf.

  • Prince James

    I like how Dana spelled his name wrong in his tweet. Nice one Dana.

  • A lot of people are upset b/c Gegard Mousasi is a well known name and fighting Gustaf or Wandy was a great fight but lets give this new guy a chance to shine and hope this is a good fight. Although if Mousasi loses he will be set back big time in such a division with many interesting fights to come.

  • Ian Price

    Should be first round finish for Gegard

  • diazfan209

    It’s just my opinion, but I think this card was strong enough to continue without Mousasi headlining. He is trying to contend for a title shot and who knows what could happen with a completely unknown opponent. I realize if he wants to be champion he should beat anyone, anytime, anywhere, but it just doesn’t make sense to have a title contending fighter have to face someone that won’t boost him toward a title shot, while also putting his position at the title at risk w/ an unknown fighter as an opponent. I’m still excited to see Mousasi fight, just a bit concerned that this fight isn’t going to propel him closer to a title, putting him ahead of Gus.

    • Supaman

      strong? this was probably one of the weakest… maybe even lower than a TUF finale.
      only saving grace is that it’s on FUEL and not a PPV

    • jeremy

      you do realize his original opponent got hurt and they had to find a last minute replacement don’t you?

  • Strange choice, however people love an underdog story. If this dude can win then the he’ll make himself a big name in the UFC.

  • Mark McDowall

    This could turn out to be a pretty good fight…Latifi’s got nothing to loose and everything to gain. Hopefully Gregard doesn’t get lulled in to a false sense of security and get sloppy.

    • Julian Moran


      • Tim


  • oface

    why didnt they make phil davis vs gregard

    • Truth

      they were lucky to find anyone. There were many difficulties.

      1) really short notice, so any fighter accepting the fight would have to be physically ready and able to make weight (and willing to have such short time to gameplan)

      2) since it was short notice and an international fight, any fighter would have to be ready to travel (prepare visas, etc. (they’d also have to go quickly to dispel the jet lag)

      3) esp. for a guy like Phil Davis, too much to lose in taking the fight b/c Gegard Mousasi isn’t that well known to casual fans or solely UFC fans. Not to mention this is on FUEL and NOT a PPV.

      • ri

        and jetlagg, you need time to get accustomed to the time difference

        • oface

          I personally think its a good fight for phil davis. Gregard is a much bigger name than vinny and a main event spot is much better than middle of the ppv. The visa thing is the only real point you bring up. Also Phil’s style matches up well against gregard. The game plan/ jetlag excuse is overplayed.

  • uigbu


  • Well produced documentary of Latifi, for those of you who are interested in finding out who this really is.