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 (, 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

UFC 195 headliner Carlos Condit inspired by teammate Holly Holm's KO of Ronda Rousey

  • 7 days ago

UFC welterweight title challenger Carlos Condit was sitting in a bar when he watched teammate Holly Holm knock out Ronda Rousey at this past Saturday’s UFC 193. Suffice to say, he worked out a little read news >>

UFC headliner Dan Henderson finds 'passed-out drunk' guy in hotel room

  • 22 days ago

If Dan Henderson is trying to cut out distractions ahead of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 77 headliner, his hotel isn’t doing him any favors.Filed under: News, UFC, Videos read news >>

Matt Brown Injured, Out of UFC Fight Night 78 Headliner

  • 23 days ago

The UFC Fight Night 78 card received a major blow on Monday, as main eventer Matt Brown had to withdraw due to an undisclosed injury. read news >>

The Comeback: UFC loses headliner, Cormier's new deal, Holm responds to Rousey

  • 23 days ago

In a sport that never stops moving, even MMA junkies can struggle to keep up with all the latest news. If you missed any of Monday’s biggest headlines, catch up with “The Comeback.”Filed under: Bella read news >>

Matt Brown says he's out of UFC Fight Night 78 headliner vs. Kelvin Gastelum

  • 23 days ago

Less than three weeks before their fight in Mexico, Matt Brown is out of his welterweight main event against Kelvin Gastelum.Filed under: Featured, News, UFC read news >>

UFC Fight Night 77 headliner Dan Henderson: The underdog to end all underdogs

  • 23 days ago

Going into Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 77 main event against Vitor Belfort in Brazil, Dan Henderson will fight as an underdog for the 10th straight time. Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

CM Punk Teammate Ben Askren: Punk Critics Are Just Jealous

  • 24 days ago

You're just jealous. It's a stock response to criticism, and it's probably as old as criticism itself. Is it accurate? That depends on the situation. If you ask Ben Askren, it's an appropriate respon read news >>

Knockout Radio Podcast: UFC Headliner Rose Namajunas

  • 24 days ago

Join Knockout Radio for the podcast featuring new UFC Fight Night 80 headliner Rose Namajunas and all the week's hottest MMA news. read news >>

UFC 193 headliner Ronda Rousey 'happy to be the most drug tested in the UFC'

  • 25 days ago

There was a time when the level of drug testing Ronda Rousey got in MMA left her stunned – and not in a good way. Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos read news >>

TUF LATAM 2 - Episode 10 Recap

  • 28 days ago

It was teammate versus teammate on the latest installment of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, as Team Escudero got put directly in the crosshairs with the semifinal round matchup between Horacio read news >>