Swedish Fighter Ilir Latifi Fills in to Face Gegard Mousasi at UFC on Fuel 9

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Swedish Fighter Ilir Latifi Fills in to Face Gegard Mousasi at UFC on Fuel 9
photo courtesy of MMANytt.se

With only four days until event time, the UFC has secured a replacement fighter to step in and face former Strikeforce and Dream champion Gegard Mousasi in the main event at UFC on Fuel 9 in Sweden.

UFC president Dana White announced on Tuesday that newcomer Ilir Latifi will step in to replace his friend and training partner Alexander Gustafsson in the main event.

The fight came together hours after the Swedish MMA Federation decided that Gustafsson would be unable to compete after suffering a cut over his eye in training. The laceration was too severe to allow the light heavyweight contender to compete this Saturday, so as the sanctioning body over the UFC on Fuel 9 event, they opted to remove him from the card.

With little time to spare and only a few days to find a fighter to replace Gustafsson, the UFC found one of his training partners to come in and serve as the new main event alongside Mousasi.

At 7-2, Latifi comes to the UFC by way of Sweden, but having never fought on a major show, especially one of this magnitude, the 29-year-old has the odds stacked against him.

Despite his relatively unknown status, Latifi has faced some solid competition in his career. The Swede holds victories over Team Black House fighter Jorge Oliveira and King of the Cage veteran Tony Lopez. He's also faced current Bellator contender Emanuel Newton, although Latifi came out on the short end of that fight, losing by unanimous decision.

It will be a tough test for Latifi, who accepted the fight just 72 hours away from weighing in against one of the top light heavyweights in the sport.

Mousasi will be making his UFC debut this Saturday after a long career in several other promotions, where he sat near the top in both the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. 

Following his final fight in Strikeforce in January, where he picked up a submission victory over Mike Kyle, Mousasi transitioned to the UFC with title hopes in his eyes. 

It appears for the time being he'll have to be satisfied with a main event fight in the Octagon against a relative unknown in Latifi.

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report

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