Since I have no idea who the hell Ilir Latifi is, it seems fitting to shut my yap and let everyone else fill you in on what his deal is.
Latifi (7-2) is 29-year-old fighter who is currently on a three-fight winning streak. He most recently competed back in October, where he defeated Jorge Oliveira by unanimous decision. He also holds a win over KOTC champ Tony Lopez. His losses have come to current Bellator fighter Emanuel Newton and Tatsuya Mizuno.
[W]e have also discovered that he is a Greco-Roman wrestler of some repute. In 2001, Latifi won the Junior Nordic Championships in Greco at 96kg (FILA junior age division is 20-22 years of age). The following year he placed second at the same event at a lower weight, possibly driven to a lighter division by the arrival of Swedish wrestling superstar Jimmy Lidberg.
“Latifi is a national champion in wrestling in Sweden. If we’ve seen a weakness in Mousasi in the past, it’s with guys who can take him down and control him, so perhaps Ilir has the style that will give him a lot of problems.”
Rashad Evans on FUEL TV:
“He was one of the first members of the Blackzilians. We trained together. He was strong. I started calling him ‘The Strongy.’ He’s a good wrestler and has a lot of power in his hands. He can put you out with one shot.”
While the original Gustafsson-Mousasi main event was scheduled for five rounds, UFC officials confirmed to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the Mousasi-Latifi fight, while still a headliner, will be just three rounds due to the short notice for Latifi.
From a size standpoint, Mousasi will be facing an opponent with a significant size difference than Gustafsson. Gustafsson stands 6-foot-4, while Latifi checks in at just 5-8 against the 6-1 Mousasi.
Gegard Mousasi opened as a minus-2000 favorite over replacement opponent Ilir Latifi. Translating that into a percentage, Mousasi is a 95.24 percent favorite over Latifi. If those odds hold, Mousasi will walk into the Octagon on Saturday as the biggest favorite in UFC history, shattering the record minus-1650 Chad Mendes had over Yaotzin Meza on the UFC on FX: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson fight card.
Though mostly unknown to even hardcore fans, lots of footage is available on Mr. Latifi. Instead of educating yourself through replacement paragraphs filed minutes after the Swede was announced as Gustafsson’s replacement, get enlightened with hours of fight footage, courtesy of YouTube.
After the jump, a video from Latifi shortly after he was announced as the replacement, plus a slick looking documentary on the fighter.