After Alexander Gustafsson was forced out of Saturday’s UFC on FUEL TV 9 main event against Gegard Mousasi due to a cut, the stage was set for late replacement Ilir “The Sledgehammer” Latifi of Malmo, Sweden to pull off a monumental upset at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. But Mousasi, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, was never in trouble as he dealt calmly with all the pre-fight madness and coasted to a three round unanimous decision win over the game, but outmatched, Latifi.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Mousasi, who said afterward that he entered the bout with an undisclosed injury and a cold.
Mousasi calmly pecked away at Latifi with his strikes in the opening stages of the bout, deftly turning back Latifi’s first serious takedown attempt with 1:20 gone in the fight. Swinging and missing wildly with haymakers, Latifi wasn’t able to get close to his foe, and while Mousasi was laser-like with his own strikes, he was keeping his hands low, leaving an opening for one of those looping shots from the Swede, who told the veteran to bring it on as the round drew to a close.
The pace of the bout remained unchanged in round two, but this time Latifi was starting to get closer with his strikes, most notably landing with a right that hit home with an audible thud. Mousasi was unmoved by the blow, and his jabs were beating a red tattoo on his foe’s face. After another stuff of a Latifi takedown attempt, Mousasi looked to be closing in on a finish as he battered his game, but bloodied, opponent.
In the final round, the only drama left was seeing if Latifi would make it to the final bell under the assault of Mousasi, and he did, even getting a late trip to the canvas of his opponent which he capped off with a thunderous ground strike. It wasn’t enough to turn the tide for the courageous late replacement, but you can expect that after showing off his heart and determination on four days’ notice, on a full camp, fight fans will see even more from Latifi.
With the win, Mousasi improves to 34-3-2; Latifi falls to 8-3 with 1 NC.
PEARSON vs. COUTURE
Lightweight up and comer Ross Pearson always referred to UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture as one of his fighting heroes. He didn’t show the same reverence for Couture’s son Ryan, bouncing back from a shaky start to halt the Octagon newcomer in the second round.
The taller Couture (6-2) locked up with Pearson almost immediately, pushing his foe to the fence in an effort to score a takedown. Pearson (17-6) resisted the trip to the mat, but he was unable to break free, eating knees to the body and an occasional elbow in the process. Midway through the stanza, Couture did get Pearson to the canvas briefly, but “The Real Deal” rose quickly and got loose shortly thereafter. Couture’s movement and rangy strikes kept him in control and out of trouble though, capping off an effective first round effort.
Beginning round two with some swelling under his left eye courtesy of a late surge from Pearson at the end of the first, Couture kept up with his lateral movement, but Pearson was closing the gap with greater efficiency. After locking up with Pearson against the fence, Couture got off a nice set of strikes before resuming his game plan, and while the Brit kept the pressure on, his fists weren’t following. But with less than 1:40 remaining in the round, Pearson caught a Couture kick and found his opportunity as his opponent went to the mat. A series of ground strikes got Couture’s attention, and as he got up, Pearson refused to let him off the hook, scoring with a barrage of shots capped off with a left hook that sent the Strikeforce vet to the mat. More punches followed, prompting Leon Roberts to stop the fight at the 3:45 mark of round two.
Watch Pearson's post-fight interview
MITRIONE vs. De FRIES
Heavyweight prospect Matt Mitrione snapped a two fight losing streak with a quick knockout of Phil De Fries.
De Fries made no secret of his desire to get the takedown, and after getting stuffed on the first one, the second proved to be a fight ender, as his collision with Mitrione sent him backward to the canvas. Mitrione followed him there with a series of strikes, and Marc Goddard intervened, stopping the bout at 19 seconds of the opening round.
Mitrione improves to 6-2 with the win; De Fries falls to 9-3 with 1 NC.
Watch Mitrione's post-fight interview
PICKETT vs. EASTON
Leading up to tonight’s card, many thought the best fight of the night would be turned in by bantamweight contenders Brad Pickett and Mike Easton, and the two 135-pounders certainly did their part to lead up to their advance billing, engaging in an exciting three rounder won by Pickett via split decision.
Scores for Pickett, now 24-7, were 30-27 twice and 28-29; Easton falls to 13-3.
The bantamweights weren’t shy about exchanging on the feet as the bout commenced, bit in the second minute the fight moved to close range against the fence, with Easton in control as he scored with strikes in between looking for takedowns. Pickett’s defense was solid though, and a couple elbows broke Easton’s grip and allowed “One Punch” to get free. Easton was no slouch in the ensuing standup action though, as he mixed his strikes up and set up a takedown. When the two rose, Pickett scored with a takedown of his own, finishing the round strong.
The back and forth standup exchanges continued into the first two minutes of the second round, with Pickett breaking things up with a takedown. After rising, the fighters resumed the toe-to-toe battling, with Easton getting the takedown this second time around. As they rose, fatigue was evident on Pickett’s face, but a right-left was able to jar Easton in the final 30 seconds, drawing a roar from the crowd.
Despite the high pace of the previous two rounds, the third continued to match it, with the standup scrapping followed by exciting ground scrambles that ended with Pickett in the top position. As the two rose, Pickett took Easton’s back and slammed him back to the mat, but with a minute left, the fight returned to the feet, and not surprisingly, they spent the final 60 seconds throwing punches at each other, capping off a memorable bout.
Watch Pickett's post-fight interview
GARZA vs. BRANDAO
The Ultimate Fighter season 14 winner Diego Brandao put together his most impressive post-TUF victory, submitting Pablo Garza in the first round of their featherweight bout.
The two combatants traded strikes early on, both getting their share of licks in. With less than two minutes gone, Brandao lifted Garza up and took him to the canvas, moving into side control and then the mount. From there, the Brazilian transitioned into an arm triangle, and that was all she wrote, as Garza tapped out 3:27 into the fight.
With the win, Brandao improves to 21-8; Garza falls to 13-4.
Watch Brandao's post-fight interview
CORASSANI vs. PERALTA
Fighting at home in Sweden for the first time since 2011, Akira Corassani made it two for two in the UFC, scoring a hard-fought three round unanimous decision over Robbie Peralta.
Scores were 30-27 twice, and 29-28 for Corassani, now 13-4; Peralta, who was entering the fight with a 10 fight unbeaten streak, falls to 16-4 with 1 NC.
Corassani was the busier of the two in the opening round, both with his hands and his movement as he kept Peralta from getting his feet set to let loose his bombs. Peralta did get a few shots off, but Corassani’s wilder punches found a home more often as the round progressed.
Hoping to slow Corassani down, Peralta began utilizing leg kicks in round two, but the New York-based Swede was undeterred. Peralta even shot for a takedown in the second minute in an attempt to switch things up, but to no avail. Midway through the round though, a left hand rocked Corassani and had him in deep trouble. Remarkably, Corassani weathered the follow-up attack and was able to get back to his feet and tie the Californian up. With under a minute left, Corassani evened the score with an overhand right, wobbling Peralta as he rallied to the bell.
After two competitive rounds, Corassani and Peralta came out swinging in the third, both hoping to end the fight in explosive fashion. After a couple heated exchanges, Corassani scored with a takedown a minute in as Peralta worked for a kimura. The two rose briefly before Corassani took the fight back to the mat, After a stalemate on the canvas, the fight returned to the standing position but the fighters remained entwined as they battled along the fence. Peralta opened a cut on Corassani’s head with an elbow, but a scramble allowed the former Ultimate Fighter contender to take Peralta down again, allowing him to keep the fight on the mat until the bell.
Watch Corassani's post-fight interview
Sledgehammered: Mousasi Punishes Game Latifi - UFC on FUEL TV 9 Main Card Results
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