34-Year-Old UFC Light Heavyweight 15-5-0, 1NC
July 6, 2018 Ilir Latifi News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Latifi has withdrawn from his UFC Hamburg matchup against Glover Teixeira due to an undisclosed injury, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
It's the second time in the calendar year that Latifi has been pulled from a fight due to injury, as a fight against Ovince Saint Preux scheduled for January had to be moved to Feb. 24. Latifi ended up taking care of business against OSP for his fifth win in his last six fights. The Teixeira matchup was an exceptional opportunity to showcase his skills against the No. 3-ranked UFC light heavyweight, but it's unclear if Latifi will eventually get this chance again. The promotion is currently looking for a replacement opponent to headline the card against Teixeira.
Ilir Latifi: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
Fantasy AnalysisThe fight will take place during the July 22 Fight Night event at the Baclaycard Arena in Germany. Latifi is coming off a victory against Ovince Saint Preux after choking him out, and will be awarded with one of his toughest opponents to date in the UFC veteran. Latifi's build will keep him at a disadvantage in the height and reach departments, but he'll lean heavily on his wrestling to negate those factors. Over 10 UFC bouts, Latifi has yet to be taken down.
Fantasy AnalysisIt was a victory that Latifi had to have if he hoped to continue to fancy himself as a title contender and he got it. The finish was a thing of beauty. Latifi connected with a short left hand that sent OSP tumbling before he blitzed his opponent and clamped on the guillotine that ended the fight. Latifi had no problem getting inside against the longer, more athletic Saint Preux. Latifi has pop in his hands and is one of the strongest fighters in the division. He is going to be give up a bunch of size (he's listed at 5-foot-10) to most everyone he faces, but he has shown an ability to counter that. Latifi may only be another win or two away from a potential shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
Fantasy AnalysisThe two were originally scheduled to throw down at UFC Charlotte on Jan. 27, but Latifi was forced to withdraw due to an undisclosed injury. He later posted on his Twitter account that he would only need a couple weeks to heal, and that turns out to be the case, as the fight was re-booked for just a month later than the scheduled date. Matchup-wise, Latifi will need to use his biggest strength -- his wrestling -- to keep the fight in close and overcome Saint Preux's size and reach advantages.
Fantasy AnalysisThe bout was scheduled to happen at UFC on FOX 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina. It appears as though the promotion is looking into finding a replacement for Saint Preux, but there has been no word on whether the scheduled bout will remain on the card at the present time. Regarding Latifi's injury, it seems to be a minor setback, as "The Sledgehammer" posted a tweet telling Saint Preux to give him a couple weeks to heal, implying that he would be ready to face off in the near future.
Fantasy AnalysisLatifi's last fight came at UFC 215 on September 9. Latifi won said bout against Tyson Pedro via unanimous decision, and will now prepare to face OSP at the latter end of January. Latifi will aim to use his wrestling skill to overcome a disadvantage in terms of height and reach.
Fantasy AnalysisClosing as a slight underdog, Latifi looked terrific. He controlled the pace of the fight and did a terrific job of getting in tight against his longer, taller opponent. Latifi ended up landing all four of his takedown attempts which led to 7:25 worth of control time. The Swede is a much better athlete than he gets credit for and he moves well for a man who is short (5-foot-10) for the division. Latifi took more than a year off following his KO loss at the hands of Ryan Bader last September and it seems to have been a smart decision.
Fantasy AnalysisLatifi has a 5-3 record with the UFC (13-5, 1 NC overall) since joining the promotion in 2013. "The Sledgehammer" broke a three fight winning streak in September when he suffered a loss to Ryan Bader (KO/TKO-knee), who jumped ship to Bellator after the fight. Latifi has successfully defended 100 percent of takedown attempts against him, but absorbs more significant strikes than he lands (2.91 to 1.84).
Fantasy AnalysisLatifi tweeted that Corey Anderson would be an exciting June matchup, but nothing is set in stone yet. Nevertheless, he won't be facing Nogueira, who has a 1-3 record in his past four fights. We'll continue updates once his next opponent is set.
Fantasy AnalysisLatifi was put to sleep via flying knee in his last fight against Ryan Bader, but had rattled off three victories in a row prior to that setback. A bout against an aging Nogueira will be an excellent chance to get back on track, as Lil Nog has has came up short in three of his last four bouts, and will be 41 years old when he enters the octagon in June.
Fantasy AnalysisJust when it seemed as if Latifi had all the momentum, one poor mistake put an end to his evening. Latifi was thoroughly befuddled throughout Round 1. He was unable to close the distance against Bader and he failed on all four of his takedown attempts. Yet he landed a big right hand along the fence with about 10 seconds left in the round and that seemed to turn the tide. He looked solid early on in Round 2, but he moved forward with his head down and Bader connected flush with a knee that knocked Latifi out cold. Full marks to Bader for the stoppage, but Latifi is going to be left wondering what could have been here. The 33-year-old is now 5-3 in the UFC, although he's better than that record would lead you to believe.
Fantasy AnalysisLatifi has won three fights in a row and five of his last six overall. He's very short for the light heavyweight division at 5-foot-10, but he is so strong that he can make up for any struggles that his lack of height may cause. The 33-year-old Latifi may not get another big fight in his career if he comes up short against Bader, so it's imperative that he puts forth his best effort on Saturday.
Fantasy AnalysisLatifi will effectively parlay a victory over Gian Villante in March into easily the biggest fight of his professional career. Although the light heavyweight division isn't particularly deep, Bader is the No. 5-ranked fighter in the weight class, and an upset here would do wonders for Latifi's career. Despite the power Latifi brings to the table, Bader will be the much longer fighter in this bout. To have a chance to win, Latifi will need to adequately defend kicks, and work to close the gap in the striking game to give himself an opportunity to land inside shots.
Fantasy AnalysisIt was a clear win for Latifi, although it was far from a dominant performance. He didn't land much in the way of strikes, although he did manage three takedowns, one of which was a gigantic suplex that planted Villante right on his head. Latifi doesn't have an ideal frame for the light heavyweight division (he's short and susceptible to kicks), but he is so strong that he can make up for it. Villante is a tough opponent and clearly Latifi's most impressive win to date. There are fighters in the back-half of the UFC's 205-pound division that Latifi can beat.
Fantasy AnalysisComing off back-to-back KO wins in a combined 84 seconds, Latifi is viewed as having a ton of potential in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. It seems like a bit of a reach for a 32-year-old that has never fought anyone good (Latifi did fight Gegard Mousasi in his UFC debut in April 2013, he lost) and has a short frame for the division. The power is clearly there, but Latifi is going to have to prove that he has other ways to win fights when he starts to face better competition. Villante has shown an ability to take a beating in the past, so it’s unlikely that Latifi will be able to earn a quick stoppage victory in this fight. He is being overvalued a bit here, but it’s quite clear that Latifi will be ranked as a top-10 fighter if he is able to get by Villante.
Fantasy AnalysisThis one was over before it even started, as Latifi landed an early right hand that hobbled O'Connell. Although O'Connell wanted to get back up and fight right away, the stoppage likely saved him from taking a significant amount of additional, unnecessary damage. Latifi now has back-to-back first-round knockouts to his name, and should be dealt a more challenging opponent his next time out.
Fantasy AnalysisUFC analyst Brian Stann mentioned during the fight that Daniel Cormier told him that Latifi was the strongest guy that he had ever trained with and Latifi showed off that massive strength in this contest. One monster right hand was all it took to end Stringer's night. Latifi is already 31-years old so his ceiling isn't particularly high, but he has a ton of power and he's a great wrestler. He improves to 3-2 in the UFC.