STOCKHOLM – The drama for Gegard Mousasi came to an end late Tuesday in Sweden when he got word that he indeed would remain as the main event on Saturday’s UFC on FUEL TV 9 card.
Mousasi (33-3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) earlier on Tuesday finally got the official word that Alexander Gustafsson (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) indeed was out of their main event at Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, Gustafsson’s home country.
But the UFC was able to tap newcomer Ilir Latifi (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), one of Gustafsson’s Swedish teammates, to step in on short notice to face Mousasi, a former Strikeforce champion.
Through his manager and Swedish website MMA Nytt, Mousasi issued a statement about the change in opponent and being able to stay on the card in the main event. The alternative, of course, would have been falling off the card completely had the UFC not found him a suitable opponent this late in the process.
“Gegard and our team are disappointed to not be able to compete against Alexander Gustafsson,” Mousasi stated. “However, we understand the fight business and wish Alex a speedy recovery. We want to thank Ilir for stepping up last minute to take this fight. Gegard intends to make a great show with a strong performance for all the fans. Thank you to Dana White, Joe Silva and the rest of the Zuffa team for working so diligently on this matter. Now it is time to fight and make a great show for the fans!”
UFC President Dana White first brought news of the opponent switch Tuesday via Twitter. Gustafsson was ruled out of the fight after suffering a facial cut in a recent training session.
UFC officials confirmed to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the Mousasi-Latifi fight will be just three rounds due to the short notice for Latifi. The original fight between Gustafsson and Mousasi was scheduled for five rounds, and Gustafsson was thought to be in a position to be next in line for a light heavyweight title shot with a win.
Latifi comes into his UFC debut on a three-fight win streak, all of which took place in 2012. “The Sledgehammer” has five of his seven career wins by stoppage. His most recent loss came at the hands of recent Bellator MMA light heavyweight tournament winner Emanuel Newton under the Shark Fights banner in July 2011. That bout was his first outside of Europe.
UFC on FUEL TV 9 has a main card on FUEL TV following prelims on Facebook.
For more on UFC on FUEL TV 9, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Gegard Mousasi)