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.

Related News

Bobby Lashley open to fight with ATT teammate Kimbo Slice: ‘Business is business’

  • 20 days ago
  • 6 views

Bellator heavyweight Bobby Lashley is open to a potential bout against Kimbo Slice. read news >>

Video: Nate Diaz calls out 'bitches' Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez

  • 20 days ago
  • 292 views

Nate Diaz was in Mexico City, Mexico supporting his friend and teammate, Gilbert Melendez, for his lightweight bout against Eddie Alvarez, which co-headlined last night's (Sat., June 13, 2015) UFC 18 read news >>

Albert Tumenov says UFC 188 opponents weren't injured and used 'trick moves'

  • 21 days ago
  • 0 views

MEXICO CITY -- Albert Tumenov talks about the feeling when he found out his UFC 188 bout was cancelled, receiving his show money, when he wants to fight again, and more. read news >>

UFC 188 results: Tecia Torres outworks 'TUF 20' teammate Angela Hill for decision win

  • 21 days ago
  • 7 views

MEXICO CITY – Tecia Torres used takedowns and top control to edge out Angela Hill in a slow-paced bout that drew languid boos in each, with even the most vocal detractors seeming to lose enthusiasm d read news >>

Video: Are Mexican fans really rooting for Werdum over Velasquez? We asked them

  • 21 days ago
  • 10 views

MEXICO CITY – So which UFC 188 headliner are Mexican fans rooting for? We took to the streets of Mexico City to find out.Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos read news >>

Video: Watch UFC 188 headliner Fabricio Werdum's impressive UFC return

  • 21 days ago
  • 12 views

After a loss to Alistair Overeem in his final Strikeforce fight, Fabricio Werdum needed a good performance in his return to the UFC back in 2012. Mission accomplished.Filed under: News, UFC, Videos read news >>

Gilbert Melendez talks about 'fake Mexican' hoopla surrounding UFC 188's headliner

  • 23 days ago
  • 42 views

MEXICO CITY – Fabricio Werdum thought it would be good promotion to take a shot at undisputed champ Cain Velasquez’s Mexican heritage in advance of their headliner at UFC 188. Even Gilbert Melendez i read news >>

Invicta 13 Lineup Complete with Cyborg in Headliner, Three Title Bouts

  • 24 days ago
  • 1 views

International Fight Week in Las Vegas just got a big addition in the form of women's MMA, as Invicta revealed its 13th installment with three title fights. The card will be spearheaded by Cris "Cybor read news >>

Watch this new video from Tito Ortiz proving why Ronda Rousey is ducking Cris Cyborg

  • 26 days ago
  • 2142 views

Why won't UFC 190 headliner Ronda Rousey fight Cristiane Justino? I mean beside the fact that "Cyborg" still isn't competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight division, or that read news >>

CES MMA 29 co-headliner Matt Bessette's first fight was a life-threatening one

  • 26 days ago
  • 8 views

Outside of stepping in a cage for a sanctioned fistfight every couple months, Matt Bessette said his life is pretty mundane, but that hasn’t always been the case. His childhood was overshadowed by a read news >>