When Alexander Gustafsson had to pull out of the main of event of UFC on Fuel 9, there was a lot of speculation as to who would replace him. Would another fighter on the card fill in? Would a middleweight step up? Would Wanderlei save the day?
The odds that anyone would have picked Ilir Latifi were about as bad as they are for him beating Mousasi on April 6th.
On paper Latifi makes some sense. He is a ‘popular’ Swedish fighter and he was already helping Gustafsson train to fight Mousasi. Plus, should he win, the UFC can market Here Comes the Boom II: The Ilir Latifi Story.
Still, surely there must have been some better options, for instance:
Vitor Belfort: It’s not surprising to hear Belfort actually agreed to take this fight considering he stepped up last year to “save” UFC 151/152. Belfort-Mousasi sounds like fireworks, and with his history of gassing, Vitor probably only trains a few days for a fight anyway.
Dan Henderson: Speaking of UFC 151, Hendo could have earned his way back into the UFC’s good graces by saving this card. He hardly took any damage in the Machida fight and is probably itching to move past that poor showing. Plus he’s not getting any younger and should grab fights while he still can.
Anthony Johnson: Let’s assume he’s working freelance for WSOF for second. What better way for the prodigal son to return to the UFC than by saving a card and finally fighting in the right weight class?
Christine ‘Cyborg’ Santos: The weight cut wouldn’t be an issue and we’ve seen her manhandle a former 205 lb. champion. It sets the stage nicely for the Rousey fight too, no?
In all seriousness, Brandon Vera or Jimi Manuwa couldn’t have filled in and given us a relevant main event? Oh well, Mousasi fought in Strikeforce, he’s used to squash matches.
(photo via Jeff Cain, MMA Weekly)