UFC on FUEL TV 9 headliner Ilir Latifi feeling pressure in teammate's absence


ilir-latifi.jpgSTOCKHOLM – It was simply too good of an opportunity to let pass by, but promotional newcomer Ilir Latifi admits he’s feeling pressure to perform now that he’s replaced teammate Alexander Gustafsson in Saturday’s UFC on FUEL TV 9 headliner.

“It was an opportunity, what can I say?” Latifi today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), just 12 hours after he was announced as a replacement. “Stepping in the octagon against the best fighters is not (an opportunity) given every day. It’s an opportunity you can’t say no to.”

Gustafsson, the 29-year-old Latifi’s teammate, suffered a facial cut this past week, and on Tuesday, the Swedish MMA Federation officially nixed the rising contender’s participation in the event. Gustafsson (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) was slated to fight in his home country against Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe Arena.

Latifi (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), a fellow Swede who had been helping Gustafsson prepare for the fight, immediately began his campaign to get the fight. For him, it wasn’t about wanting to fight a well-known opponent like Mousasi or headlining a UFC event or getting a big opportunity in his home country.

For Latifi, it was simply a way to get in the UFC. But now, with just three days before his fight with a former Strikeforce and DREAM champion, is he feeling the pressure to perform for Swedish fight fans?

“Of course,” he said. “For me, it’s impossible to fill Alex’s place. He’s a great fighter, and he needed to be here. But I’m going to do my best.”

Latifi, who said he wanted to skip questions about his weight and weight cut, also declined to make any bold predictions. But the short, compact 205-pounder is fully aware the odds are stacked against him. Sure, he was a small part of Gustafsson’s training camp and learned a few tips for fighting Mousasi, but he hasn’t fought in half a year, he’s got no training camp of his own, and he’s knows oddsmakers have tapped him a monumental underdog.

But he’s a longtime wrestler, and he said he’s applied those skills to MMA better than most. It also doesn’t hurt that his strength is also one of Mousasi’s most obvious weaknesses.

“I didn’t have a training camp like Mousasi did, but I hope the situation makes me ready,” he said. “I’m hoping I can go in there and do what I do. I take it for what it is.

“Mousasi is a great fighter. He’s a top 10 fighter in the world. He’s a complete fighter, but I knew I could take the fight, and if I took it, I’d do a good job too.”

For more on UFC on FUEL TV 9, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.
From Around the Web

Related News

  • 4 days ago
  • 3 views

Raquel Pennington looked good on Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” But she looked outstanding when she choked out Ashlee Evans-Smith in December. See the full fight inside. Filed under: News, UFC, read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 2 views

The UFC’s injury struggles in the first month of 2015 continued on Friday, and next month’s main event in Colorado has taken a hit. Filed under: MMA Rumors, News, UFC read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 50 views

Check out our full "Fight Day" preview for UFC 183: "Silva vs Diaz," which takes place tonight (Sat., Jan. 31, 2015) live from MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada featuring a mammoth middleweight bout in read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 16 views

The UFC 183 start time, TV schedule is for the Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday night. The fight card is broken into three different parts, each air read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 207 views

UFC 183: Silva vs. Diaz takes place tonight from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The festivities begin with three fights on UFC Fight Pass at 7:00 p.m. ET, continue with another four read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 12 views

The UFC 183 pay-per-view is headlined by the marquee fight between the returning Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz, and the excitement heading into Saturday's event has the mixed martial arts world on edg read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 6 views

Miesha "Cupcake" Tate simply won't go away. She captured a huge majority-decision win over Sara McMann on Saturday night at UFC 183. UFC News has the official scorecards: Some MMA fans may be tired o read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 16 views

UFC 183’s headliner saw Anderson Silva return to the win column with a unanimous decision victory over Nick Diaz at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. See how social media reacted.Filed under: Featur read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 2 views

Anderson Silva returns from injury to outpoint Nick Diaz in UFC 183 main event on Saturday in Las Vegas. read news >>