STOCKHOLM – Without original opponent Alexander Gustafsson (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) off the card with a training cut, Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) now will face Gustafsson teammate Ilir Latifi (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in Saturday's UFC on FUEL TV 9 main event.
UFC President Dana White on Tuesday night tweeted news of the new main event. The UFC had been scrambling to figure out what to do when the Swedish MMA Federation earlier Tuesday ruled Gustafsson ineligible for the fight because of a facial cut he suffered in a recent training session.
While the original Gustafsson-Mousasi main event was scheduled for five rounds, UFC officials confirmed to MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps
) that the Mousasi-Latifi fight, while still a headliner, will be just three rounds due to the short notice for Latifi.
UFC on FUEL TV 9 takes place at Stockholm's Ericsson Globe Arena with a main card on FUEL TV following prelims on Facebook.
Latifi comes into his UFC debut on a three-fight win streak, all of which took place in 2012. "The Sledgehammer" has five of his seven career wins by stoppage. His most recent loss came at the hands of recent Bellator MMA light heavyweight tournament winner Emanuel Newton under the Shark Fights banner in July 2011. That bout was his first outside of Europe.
From a size standpoint, Mousasi will be facing an opponent with a significant size difference than Gustafsson. Gustafsson stands 6-foot-4, while Latifi checks in at just 5-8 against the 6-1 Mousasi.
Gustafsson was slated to headline his second UFC event in his home country – and would have been in good standing for top contendership for the light heavyweight title with a win. A timetable hasn't been given for his return.
UFC officials were left with limited options when given the news that Gustafsson was 100 percent not possible for Saturday. Among those options may have been moving a co-main event between Ross Pearson and Ryan Couture up a spot into the main event. But with Latifi being tapped for his debut, that won't be necessary.