Lost in the madness of Alexander Gustafsson’s abrupt exit from Saturday’s main event against Gegard Mousasi (pictured) with an eyebrow gash and Ilir Latifi’s last-second substitution status is the fact Mousasi dedicated several months of his life preparing and focusing solely on Gustafsson.
Mousasi boarded a plane Tuesday destined for Sweden, uncertain of who he would be fighting in his big league debut.
By the time his aircraft landed, UFC president Dana White had announced little known Latifi agreed to step in on just four days’ notice to meet the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion.
Despite his now-nothing to gain and everything to lose predicament, Mousasi is thankful he still gets to showcase his skills on MMA’s biggest stage this Saturday as he had originally planned.
“Gegard and our team are disappointed to not be able to compete against Alexander Gustafsson,” Mousasi’s management expressed in a statement obtained by Swedish outlet MMANytt. “However, we understand the fight business and wish Alex a speedy recovery. We want to thank Ilir for stepping up last minute to take this fight.
“Gegard intends to make a great show with a strong performance for all the fans. Thank you to Dana White, Joe Silva, and the rest of the Zuffa team for working so diligently on this matter. Now it is time to fight and make a great show for the fans!”
Mousasi and Latifi meet Saturday inside Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. Some sportsbooks have pegged “The Dreamcatcher” as an astronomical 20-to-1 odds-on favorite.
FUEL TV broadcasts the main card live in America beginning at 2PM ET/11AM PT.