This is not the Ultimate Fighting Championship debut former Dream and Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi was anticipating.
Mousasi tipped the scales at 204 pounds for his impromptu showdown with short-notice newcomer Ilir Latifi (206) in the UFC on Fuel TV 9 main event on Saturday at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. Lightweight co-headliners Ross Pearson (155) and Ryan Couture (154) also met their contracted weight requirements without incident at Friday’s official weigh-in.
The 27-year-old Mousasi will carry a three-fight winning streak into the cage. He last appeared under the Strikeforce banner in January, when he submitted American Kickboxing Academy export Mike Kyle with a first-round rear-naked choke at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. A dynamic and polished offensive fighter, Mousasi has delivered 29 of his 33 professional victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Wins over 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner Mark Hunt, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and onetime Bellator MMA titleholder Hector Lombard anchor his resume. Mousasi has compiled a stellar 20-1-1 record in his past 22 appearances.
A late replacement for injured training partner Alexander Gustafsson, Latifi will enter his first UFC appearance on the strength of three straight wins. The 29-year-old Swede last fought at a Superior Challenge event in October, when he earned a unanimous decision over Jorge Oliveira at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden. Nicknamed “The Sledgehammer,” the 5-foot-8, 205-pound Latifi has recorded four of his five finishes inside one round.
UFC on Fuel TV 9 “Mousasi vs. Latifi” -- which airs on Fuel TV at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT -- also features a heavyweight tilt pairing Matt Mitrione (259) with Philip De Fries (248), a bantamweight duel pitting American Top Team’s Brad Pickett (135) against Mike Easton (135) and a pair of featherweight scraps, as “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 winner Diego Brandao (145) locks horns with Pablo Garza (146) and Strikeforce veteran Robbie Peralta (146) meets Akira Corassani (145).
Three hours prior, the seven undercard bouts will stream to the UFC’s Facebook page: Reza Madadi (155) vs. Michael Johnson (155), Tor Troeng (185) vs. Adam Cella (184), Chris Spang (170) vs. Adlan Amagov (170), Marcus Brimage (145) vs. Conor McGregor (145), Ben Alloway (170) vs. Ryan LaFlare (171), Michael Kuiper (186) vs. Tom Lawlor (185) and Papy Abedi (170) vs. Besam Yousef (168).
UFC on Fuel TV 9 Weigh-In Results:
Gegard Mousasi (204) vs. Ilir Latifi (206)
Ross Pearson (155) vs. Ryan Couture (154)
Matt Mitrione (259) vs. Philip De Fries (248)
Brad Pickett (135) vs. Mike Easton (135)
Diego Brandao (145) vs. Pablo Garza (146)
Robbie Peralta (146) vs. Akira Corassani (145)
Reza Madadi (155) vs. Michael Johnson (155)
Tor Troeng (185) vs. Adam Cella (184)
Chris Spang (170) vs. Adlan Amagov (170)
Marcus Brimage (145) vs. Conor McGregor (145)
Ben Alloway (170) vs. Ryan LaFlare (171)
Michael Kuiper (186) vs. Tom Lawlor (185)
Papy Abedi (170) vs. Besam Yousef (168)