UFC on Fuel 9: Gegard Mousasi v. Ilir Latifi
UFC on Fuel 9 took place today at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. The original headliner between former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi and Sweden’s UFC title contender Alexander Gustafsson was altered when the latter took a cut in training and was not allowed to fight as a result. Still, the event displayed lots of talent and exciting fights.
Gegard Mousasi was therefore pitted against Swede Ilir Latifi. Mousasi is known as a cerebral striker, and although he has been a Strikeforce champion and many fans have wanted him in the UFC, he hasn’t many impressive wins notched in his belt, and still has to prove he belongs with the elite in the world’s top promotion.
It also was Latifi’s UFC debut. This type situation will be more and more common because of the sheer number of events these days, and the fact that many fighters are simply no longer available to fill in a vacated slot on a week’s notice. Kudos to Latifi for taking this fight.
Mousasi had taken a minor injury prior to the contest and chose to utilize the length he creates with his footwork and mastery of distance to keep the wrestler at bay. He picked apart the Swede with jabs, but Latifi hung in there and even scored a takedown late in round three, which showed how potentially dangerous he could be in top position. It was an uneventful fight in which each fighter at least demonstrated he deserves another shot in the organization.
Randy Couture’s son, Ryan Couture, fought The Ultimate Fighter’s season 9 champion Ross Pearson at lightweight. Ryan was in the octagon to prove he belongs there on his own merit and not on the coattails of his dad, and earned the shot with his record in Strikeforce.
Ryan’s clinching and stifling dirty boxing looked reminiscent of his dad’s, with added knees and kicks from the clinch and during quick separations. He also utilized back and forth movement and constant switch stances to stifle Pearson’s heavy hands.
The tactic worked till the second round, when Pearson sandwiched Couture near the fence and landed a patented combo and left, and finished Couture at 3:45.
After the fight, Ryan looked about as dejected as you'd expect.
Matt Mitrione fought Phil De Fries at heavyweight, a fight was originally slated for 2010. Jiu Jitsu ace De Fries probably wished it had taken place three years ago. He lasted only 19 seconds when he moved forward while changing levels and got clipped with a right and a lightning-fast barrage once he’d gone to the canvas.
Mitrione comes off as a flake but in actuality the former NFLer is a thoughtful, articulate fighter who recognizes his skills and speed, while impressive, are as yet still developing in a division with a gauntlet that is hard for any fighter to run.
Ireland’s Conor McGregor was by far the most impressive fighter of the night when he TKOed Marcus Brimage at 1:07 of round 1 with striking that was eerily reminiscent of pound for pound king Anderson Silva. McGregor can attack from any angle or position, and peppers his opponent with front kicks, side kicks, and punches with power from every conceivable position.
After the fight announcer Kenny Florian asked McGregor about his game plan. In a barely discernible Irish accent , McGregor said, “Wherever the fight takes place is where it’s taking place. I don’t plan anything.”
The lightweight Irishman awed in his UFC debut and will certainly be one to watch. Perhaps his most notable weapon is his stoic prescience in the pocket, where he seems to see everything at a much slower speed and sooner than his opponent.
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