Swedish sledgehammer Ilir Latifi (13-5 MMA, 6-3 UFC) appeared recharged after a year away from competition, outworking previously undefeated prospect Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) for a decision win.
The light heavyweight bout was part of today’s UFC 215 main card, which took place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and aired on pay-per-view.
The taller Pedro kept his range early, chopping at the legs with a few early techniques. Latifi tried to fire a counter right in reply, but Pedro avoided the powerful blows. However, Latifi did catch a subsequent low kick and drive the fight to the canvas, moving to north-south. Pedro answered perfectly with a scramble back to the feet, where he landed a big kick to the body that seemed to stun his foe. A Pedro high kick nearly scored flush but saw Latifi again drive the action to the canvas. Still, Pedro was again quick in his scramble to the feet, where he defended a takedown and landed a few strikes against the cage.
Pedro again looked to attack the legs to start the second, thought Latifi was strong in reply. Pedro tried to stay at range, but Latifi did a good job of managing distance and working past the reach to attack. Latifi eventually used heavy punches to drive his way into a clinch, where he absorbed a few short strikes but then slammed Pedro to the canvas. Pedro worked hard to get back to his feet but was peppered by several big left hands on the way up. Latifi kept hold of the clinch until the bell, controlling his bigger foe.
Pedro again chopped the leg in the third, but Latifi was there to answer with huge punches over the top. The pace was moderate, but both men were firing with power. Latifi’s left eye was busted up a bit from the damage, but he was certainly landing his share of big strikes on the feet, as well. Latifi eventually pushed forward and wrapped the body, slamming Pedro to the floor and then working hard to establish firm top control. Pedro tried to work in a few elbows while on his back, but Latifi was happy to simply maintain the dominant position. Pedro suffered a cut over the left eye in the final minute, and Latifi just grinded his way to the bell, where he was granted a hard-earned decision, 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
Latifi is now 4-1 in his past five appearances. Pedro comes up short for the first time in his career, with the fight also marking the first time one of his bouts moved past the first frame.
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