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Ilir Latifi; and, the Fighter Who Kicked MMA's Nest

"The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose."

- James A. Baldwin

On Saturday, April 6, at UFC on Fuel 9, in Stockholm, Sweden, the role of "man" will be played by Ilir Latifi.

When it was announced Latifi would replace teammate Alexander Gustafsson in the main event against Gegard Mousasi, the name did little, if nothing, to spark interest in the mixed martial arts community. In fact, the online reaction has been quite the opposite. What began as a collective resonance of the word "who," is now a fervent rejection of not only Latifi, the Swedish MMA Federation, but the UFC, in general.

Less than one year ago, on Saturday, September 1, 2012, MMA fans stood waist-deep in empty stadium seats and a clean octagon mat, bewildered by the discarded remains of a cancelled UFC 151. "For the first time in 11 years, we are going to cancel an event." Those words hung in the air that night like flatulence in an elevator.

The MMA community at large was beyond frustrated, they wanted answers. However, the only viable solution UFC President Dana White could give is "this will never happen again."

So, here we stand, days away from a main event in tact, and a free-televised card, complaining with the same dissatisfactory tone.

For a moment, recall the debuts of Houston Alexander, Joe Lauzon and Junior dos Santos...men seemingly hand-picked to bolster the record and career of a few of UFC's notable stars. And remember on those nights it only took one punch to go from no-name to the name.



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