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Ilir Latifi (born July 28, 1983) is a Swedish mixed martial artist of Albanian descent who competes in the Light Heavyweight division of the UFC. A two-time national wrestling champion[4] and a professional MMA competitor since 2008, Latifi has also competed in Shark Fights, Rumble of The Kings, and GLORY.[5] As of August 12, 2019, he is #12 in the UFC light heavyweight rankings.[6]

Ilir Latifi
Born (1983-07-28) July 28, 1983 (age 36)
Malmö, Sweden
Other namesThe Sledgehammer
ResidenceStockholm, Sweden
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Weight205 lb (93 kg; 14.6 st)
DivisionLight Heavyweight (2009–2019)
Heavyweight (2008, 2019–present)
Reach73 in (185 cm)[1]
StyleBoxing, Wrestling
Fighting out ofStockholm, Sweden[2]
TeamAllstars Training Center
Pancrase Gym Sweden
American Top Team
Malmö Tigers (Wrestling)
TrainerAndreas Michael
Selman Berisha
WrestlingSwedish national level[3]
Years active2008–present
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout6
By submission4
By decision4
By knockout4
By decision3
No contests1
Other information
Notable relativesArben Latifi (brother)
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Mixed martial arts careerEdit


With a considerable number of wrestlers in his family, Latifi began wrestling at a young age.[7] Latifi continued to wrestle in order to pursue his dream of one day being world champion.[7] In 2005, he began to follow in his older brother's footsteps by training MMA as a result of his dissatisfaction with the constant rule changes in wrestling.[7][8] Latifi competed at the 2005 ADCC European trials, where his division was won by Alistair Overeem,[9] but he did not earn a spot at the 2005 ADCC championships. Although Latifi did not compete at the 2009 ADCC European Trials, he was invited to the 2009 ADCC Championships, where he lost in the first round to Alexandre Ribeiro via points (2-0).[10]

Early careerEdit

Latifi started his career as a heavyweight. His first professional MMA fight was on May 17, 2008 with the Real Pain Challenge promotion against future Bellator fighter and WSOF Heavyweight champion Blagoi Ivanov. However, the fight was ruled a no contest 55 seconds into the first round, as Latifi drove Ivanov into one of the posts on the ring and destroyed it.[11]

Next he fought future UFC heavyweight Christian Colombo on September 6, 2008. The bout was first booked as a professional contest, but would later be changed to an amateur or semi-pro bout which is not listed on the fighters professional records. Latifi won the fight by submission due to a north-south choke in the first round. Back in professional competition Latifi had his last fight as a heavyweight, before dropping down to light heavyweight, on October 25, 2008 at Superior Challenge 2, where he defeated Roman Mihocka by knockout in the second round.

He holds a notable win over MMA- and kickboxing veteran Tony Lopez. Lopez came in to the fight on a 7 fight winning-streak. Latifi used his superior wrestling and also his inproven striking to shut Lopez down to win a unanimous decision. He has also fought against former Bellator Light Heavyweight champion and former MFC Light Heavyweight Champion Emanuel Newton and Tatsuya Mizuno. His early career success has led to Latifi being ranked as one of the top Light Heavyweights in Europe.[12][13]

He became the first Superior Challenge Light Heavyweight Champion after defeating Jorge Oliveira for the vacant belt on October 6, 2012 at Superior Challenge 8.[14]

Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit

Latifi made his UFC debut against at the time #10 ranked, former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi on April 6, 2013 at UFC on Fuel TV 9, on four days notice,[15] reportedly cutting weight from 105 kg (231 lbs) to 93,4 kg (206 lbs),[16] replacing his injured training partner Alexander Gustafsson.[17] Latifi lost to Mousasi by unanimous decision.[15] After the fight UFC President Dana White praised Latifi for taking a fight against a top 10 fighter like Mousasi on such short notice and promised that Latifi would get another fight in the promotion.[18]

In his second fight for the promotion, Latifi fought MMA- and kickboxing veteran Cyrille Diabaté on March 8, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 37.[19] Latifi won the fight by submission due to a ninja choke in the first round.[20] His opponent, Diabaté retired from MMA and the UFC following his loss to Latifi.[21]

Latifi was later expected to face Tom Lawlor on July 19, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 46.[22] However, Lawlor later had to withdraw from the bout citing an injury,[23] and was replaced by promotional newcomer Chris Dempsey.[24] Latifi effectively used leg kicks to disable his opponent, before finishing him with punches, ending the fight by a first-round knockout.[25][26]

Latifi faced promotional newcomer Jan Błachowicz on October 4, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 53.[27] He lost the fight via TKO in the first round after being visibly hurt by a kick to the liver, which Błachowicz capitalized on.[28][29]

Latifi next faced Hans Stringer on July 18, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 72.[30] He won the fight by knockout after dropping Stringer with an overhand right and following up with punches on the ground, stopping the fight 56 seconds into the first round.[31]

Latifi faced Sean O'Connell on January 17, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 81.[32] He won the fight by knockout, having landed a vicious overhand right that wobbled O'Connell, followed by a right hook that dropped him to the canvas, 28 seconds into the first round.[33][34] Following the fight, Latifi expressed his desire to fight in a main event in his hometown Malmö.[35]

Latifi faced Gian Villante on March 5, 2016 at UFC 196.[36] He won the fight by unanimous decision, after capitalizing on both his punching power and superior wrestling.[37]

Latifi next faced Ryan Bader on September 3, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 93.[38] He lost the fight via knockout in the second round.[39]

Latifi was expected to face Antônio Rogério Nogueira on June 25, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 112.[40] However on May 17, it was announced that Nogueira pulled out due to a neck injury. Subsequently, despite having six weeks to secure a replacement opponent, promotion officials elected to remove Latifi from the event entirely.[41]

Instead, he took on undefeated prospect Tyson Pedro on September 9, 2017 at UFC 215.[42][43] Latifi capitalized on his strong wrestling and overall power, to win the fight by unanimous decision, handing Pedro the first loss of his career.[44]

Latifi was expected to face Ovince Saint Preux on January 27, 2018 at UFC on Fox 27.[45] However, he was injured during a training session and was forced to pull from the event,[46] and the bout was cancelled.[47] The pair was rebooked and took place on February 24, 2018 at UFC on Fox 28.[48] After he had knocked Saint Preux down twice, Latifi won the fight by submission, due to a standing guillotine choke, in the first round.[49] This win earned him the Performance of the Night bonus.[50][51]

Latifi was expected to face Glover Teixeira on July 22, 2018 at UFC Fight Night 134.[52] However, on July 5, 2018, it was announced that he was pulled from the event, citing injury.[53]

Latifi faced Corey Anderson on December 29, 2018 at UFC 232.[54] He lost the fight via unanimous decision.[55]

Latifi was expected to face Volkan Oezdemir on June 1, 2019 at UFC Fight Night 153.[56] On May 30, 2019 it was reported that Latifi was forced to pull out of the event due to back injury and the bout was cancelled.[57] The pair was rebooked at UFC on ESPN 5 on August 3, 2019.[58][59] In turn, due to Oezdemir having visa issues to enter United States, the bout was moved to August 10, 2019 at UFC Fight Night 156.[60] He lost the fight via knockout in the second round.[61]

Move up to heavyweightEdit

On October 14, 2019, news surfaced that Latifi will be moving up to heavyweight division.[62]

Personal lifeEdit

Latifi, a native of Malmö grew up in the same urban district Rosengård, as famed Swedish football player and childhood friend Zlatan Ibrahimović.[63] Of Albanian origin, Latifi's parents emigrated from Kosovo in the 1960s.[63][64] His brother Arben "the king" Latifi, who Ilir has described as his greatest influence in life,[65] is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and was one of the pioneers of Swedish MMA in the early days, winning both the championship in European Open BJJ and the Panamerican Championship during his active career.[66]

In 2016, Latifi was awarded role model of the year and received the most votes for the people's choice award in the annual Swedish martial arts awards ceremony Kampsportsgalan.[67]

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

Mixed martial artsEdit

Submission wrestlingEdit

Amateur wrestlingEdit

  • Nordic Wrestling Association
    • 2001 Nordic Championship Junior -97 kg (213 lbs) Grecco-Roman Championship  [72][73]
  • Swedish Wrestling Federation
    • 2005 Swedish National Light Heavyweight Grecco-Roman Championship  [73]

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
22 matches 14 wins 7 losses
By knockout 6 4
By submission 4 0
By decision 4 3
No contests 1
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 14–7 (1) Volkan Oezdemir KO (punches) UFC Fight Night: Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2 August 10, 2019 2 4:31 Montevideo, Uruguay
Loss 14–6 (1) Corey Anderson Decision (unanimous) UFC 232 December 29, 2018 3 5:00 Inglewood, California, United States
Win 14–5 (1) Ovince Saint Preux Technical Submission (guillotine choke) UFC on Fox: Emmett vs. Stephens February 24, 2018 1 3:48 Orlando, Florida, United States Performance of the Night.
Win 13–5 (1) Tyson Pedro Decision (unanimous) UFC 215 September 9, 2017 3 5:00 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Loss 12–5 (1) Ryan Bader KO (knee) UFC Fight Night: Arlovski vs. Barnett September 3, 2016 2 2:06 Hamburg, Germany
Win 12–4 (1) Gian Villante Decision (unanimous) UFC 196 March 5, 2016 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 11–4 (1) Sean O'Connell KO (punch) UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Cruz January 17, 2016 1 0:30 Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Win 10–4 (1) Hans Stringer KO (punches) UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Leites July 18, 2015 1 0:56 Glasgow, Scotland
Loss 9–4 (1) Jan Błachowicz TKO (body kick and punches) UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Story October 4, 2014 1 1:58 Stockholm, Sweden
Win 9–3 (1) Chris Dempsey KO (punches) UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Brandao July 19, 2014 1 2:07 Dublin, Ireland
Win 8–3 (1) Cyrille Diabaté Submission (guillotine choke) UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa March 8, 2014 1 3:02 London, England
Loss 7–3 (1) Gegard Mousasi Decision (unanimous) UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi April 6, 2013 3 5:00 Stockholm, Sweden
Win 7–2 (1) Jorge Oliveira Decision (unanimous) Superior Challenge 8 October 6, 2012 3 5:00 Malmö, Sweden Won the SC Light Heavyweight Championship.
Win 6–2 (1) Tony Lopez Decision (unanimous) Glory 1: Stockholm May 26, 2012 3 5:00 Stockholm, Sweden
Win 5–2 (1) Denis Bogdanov Submission (americana) United Glory 15 March 23, 2012 1 0:51 Moscow, Russia
Loss 4–2 (1) Emanuel Newton Decision (unanimous) Shark Fights 17: Horwich vs. Rosholt 2 July 15, 2011 3 5:00 Frisco, Texas, United States
Win 4–1 (1) Matteo Minonzio TKO (head kick) Strength and Honor Championship 2 April 10, 2010 1 4:29 Geneva, Switzerland
Loss 3–1 (1) Tatsuya Mizuno TKO (knee and punches) Rumble of the Kings 4 November 20, 2009 3 0:15 Norrköping, Sweden
Win 3–0 (1) Darko Krbanjevic Submission (armbar) Rumble of the Kings 3 May 22, 2009 1 1:43 Malmö, Sweden
Win 2–0 (1) Luis Pinho Submission (punches) Rumble of the Kings 2 February 27, 2009 1 1:20 Norrköping, Sweden Light Heavyweight debut.
Win 1–0 (1) Roman Mihocka KO (punches) Superior Challenge 2 October 25, 2008 2 1:55 Stockholm, Sweden
NC 0–0 (1) Blagoy Ivanov NC (ring broke) Real Pain Challenge 2 May 17, 2008 1 0:55 Sofia, Bulgaria Fight ruled a no contest due to faulty cage.

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 1–0 Christian Colombo Submission (north-south choke) Adrenaline 3 - Evolution September 6, 2008 1 2:33 Hvidovre, Denmark Heavyweight bout; originally scheduled as a professional contest, later changed to an amateur bout[74]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Fight Card - UFC Fight Night Bisping vs. Leites". Archived from the original on July 15, 2015. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  2. ^ "UFC 215 results: Ilir Latifi's wrestling hands Tyson Pedro first pro loss". MMAjunkie. 2017-09-10. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  3. ^ Duane Finley (April 5, 2013). "Ilir Latifi Looking to Seize the Moment at UFC on Fuel TV 9 in Sweden". Bleacher Report.
  4. ^ "Dagens gäst: "Jag är lugnet innan stormen"".
  5. ^ "Ilir "The Sledgehammer" Latifi MMA Stats, Pictures, News, Videos, Biography". Sherdog. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  6. ^ "Rankings | UFC". Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  7. ^ a b c "FIGHTLIFE OF ILIR LATIFI - EPISODE 1". KatlaStudios. May 24, 2012.
  8. ^ "FIGHTLIFE OF ILIR LATIFI - EPISODE 3". KatlaStudios. January 17, 2013.
  9. ^ "2005 ADCC European champions". Archived from the original on 2014-08-08.retrieved 4/8/13
  10. ^ "ADCC 2009 results".retrieved on 4/8/13
  11. ^ "blagoi ivanov vs ilir latifi". VBOX7. January 8, 2010.
  12. ^ Latifi "Current MMA Rankings >> Light Heavyweight" Check |url= value (help). March 31, 2013.
  13. ^ "MMA Viking's Official Nordic Top 5 Rankings (January Update)". January 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  14. ^ "Superior Challenge 8 Fight Card". 2012-10-06.
  15. ^ a b "Gegard Mousasi plans surgery following UFC on FUEL TV 9 victory". MMAjunkie. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  16. ^ "Ilir Latifi bantade bort 12 kg på tre dagar | MMA i Sverige och Världen". Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  17. ^ "UFC on Fuel 9: Gegard Mousasi meets Ilir Latifi, training partner of Gustafsson". Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  18. ^ "Despite lopsided loss Ilir Latifi will get another UFC fight". 2013-04-06.
  19. ^ "Cyrille Diabate vs Ilir Latifi added to the UFC's return to London I March". 2013-11-29.
  20. ^ "UFC Fight Night 37 results: Ilir Latifi scores emotional submission win over Cyrille Diabate". 2014-03-08.
  21. ^ "Cyrille Diabate Retires from UFC and Combat Sports Following Loss at UFC London". MMAWeekly. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  22. ^ "UFC Fight Night in Dublin adds McCall-Pickett, Latifi-Lawlor, Harris-Serry, Donovan-Krylov". 2014-04-29.
  23. ^ "Tom Lawlor out at UFC Fight Night 46, promotion seeking replacement foe for Ilir Latifi". 2014-07-01.
  24. ^ "Newcomer Chris Dempsey meets Ilir Latifi at UFC Fight Night 46". 2014-07-03.
  25. ^ "UFC Fight Night 46 results: Ilir Latifi shuts down Chris Dempsey in first round". 2014-07-19.
  26. ^ "UFC Fight Night 46 results: Ilir Latifi knocks out Chris Dempsey early". 2014-07-19.
  27. ^ John Barry (2014-07-30). "Latifi meets newcomer Błachowicz at UFC Stockholm". Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  28. ^ Dann Stupp (2014-10-04). "UFC Fight Night 53 results: Jan Blachowicz crushes Ilir Latifi with body kick". Retrieved 2014-10-04.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "UFC Fight Night Stockholm results: Wilkinson stuns Backstrom with KO, Blachowicz liver shot stops Latifi". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  30. ^ Jesse Holland (2015-05-18). "Three new bouts set for UFC Fight Night 72 on July 18 in Glasgow, Scotland". Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  31. ^ Brent Brookhouse (2015-07-18). "UFC Fight Night 72 results: 'Sledgehammer' Ilir Latifi lives up to name vs Hans Stringer". Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  32. ^ Staff (2015-10-29). "Boston's UFC Fight Night 81 adds Ilir Latifi vs. Sean O'Connell light heavyweight scrap". Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  33. ^ Ben Fowlkes (2016-01-17). "UFC Fight Night 81 results: Ilir Latifi stuns Sean O'Connell with quick knockout". Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  34. ^ "Video: Ilir Latifi blasts Sean O'Connell with a vicious right hook". MMA Fighting. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  35. ^ "Ilir Latifi Wants to Main Event a UFC in Malmö, Sweden". Nordic MMA Everyday at MMA Viking. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  36. ^ Dann Stupp (2016-01-29). "With 48-day turnaround, Ilir Latifi meets Gian Villante at UFC 196 in Vegas". Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  37. ^ "UFC 196 results: Ilir Latifi grinds out decision over Gian Villante". 2016-03-05.
  38. ^ Jesse Holland (2016-05-26). "Ryan Bader vs Ilir Latifi on tap for UFC Fight Night event on Sept. 3 in Germany". Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  39. ^ Bent Brookhouse (2016-09-03). "UFC Fight Night 93 results: Ryan Bader lays out Ilir Latifi with crushing knee". Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  40. ^ Staff (2017-03-23). "Ilir Latifi vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira added to UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City". Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  41. ^ Guilherme Cruz (2017-05-17). "'Minotouro' Nogueira injured, out of UFC Fight Night 112 fight with Ilir Latifi". Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  42. ^ Johan Taliercio (2017-06-28). "Ilir Latifi ready for new match - get unreserved opponent on UFC 215" (in Swedish). Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  43. ^ "Ilir Latifi vs. Tyson Pedro set for UFC 215". 2017-06-29.
  44. ^ "UFC 215 results: Ilir Latifi's wrestling hands Tyson Pedro first pro loss". 2017-09-09.
  45. ^ Théoden Janes (2017-11-13). "UFC reveals names of fighters who'll face off in January in Charlotte". Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  46. ^ "Ovince St. Preux Says UFC on Fox 27 Opponent Ilir Latifi Injured, Out of Scheduled Jan. 27 Fight". Sherdog. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  47. ^ "Ovince Saint Preux, Ilir Latifi confirm that UFC on FOX 27 bout is off". MMA Fighting. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  48. ^ "Ovince Saint Preux vs. Ilir Latifi rebooked for UFC on FOX 28 in Orlando". MMAjunkie. 2018-01-18. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  49. ^ "UFC on FOX 28 results: Ilir Latifi puts Ovince Saint Preux to sleep with first-round choke". MMAjunkie. 2018-02-25. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  50. ^ "UFC on FOX 28 bonuses: Jeremy Stephens' violent KO gets him $50,000". MMAjunkie. 2018-02-25. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  51. ^ "UFC on FOX 28 post-fight bonuses: Ilir Latifi puts OSP to sleep, wins $50K extra". 2018-02-24.
  52. ^ Staff (2018-04-23). "Glover Teixeira faces Sweden's Ilir Latifi at UFC Hamburg on July 22". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  53. ^ "Ilir Latifi out of UFC Hamburg co-main event against Glover Teixeira". MMAjunkie. 2018-07-06. Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  54. ^ DNA, MMA (2018-08-27). "Ilir Latifi keert terug tegen Corey Anderson tijdens UFC 232 in Las Vegas". MMA DNA. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  55. ^ Myers, Thomas (2018-12-29). "UFC 232 results: Corey Anderson outworks Ilir Latifi, wins unanimous decision". Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  56. ^ Tristen Critchfield (2019-03-25). "Ilir Latifi vs. Volkan Oezdemir added to UFC Stockholm". Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  57. ^ "Ilir Latifi injured, bout vs. Volkan Oezdemir scratched from UFC Stockholm". MMA Junkie. 2019-05-30. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  58. ^ "Volkan Oezdemir vs Ilir Latifi re-booked for UFC on ESPN 5". 2019-06-25. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  59. ^ "Latifi vs. Oezdemir, Miller vs. Guida among 11 fights for UFC on ESPN 5". 2019-06-25.
  60. ^ Adam Guillen Jr. (2019-07-18). "Report: Visa issues force Volkan Oezdemir vs Ilir Latifi to move to UFC Uruguay". Retrieved 2019-07-19.
  61. ^ Harshman, Heath (2019-08-10). "UFC Uruguay Results: Volkan Oezdemir Takes Out Ilir Latifi With Second Round Knockout". Cageside Press. Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  62. ^ John Morgan (October 14, 2019). "UFC's Ilir Latifi moving back to heavyweight for first time in over 10 years".
  63. ^ a b "MMA-fajtern Latifi har Zlatan som förebild - Sport |". Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  64. ^ "The MMA Hour - 326 - Ilir Latifi". 2016-04-26.
  65. ^ "FIGHTLIFE OF ILIR LATIFI - EPISODE 2". KatlaStudios. September 27, 2012.
  66. ^ "Meet Swedish pioneer Arben Latifi". 2012-09-11.
  67. ^ "De tog hem priserna vid Kampsportsgalan". Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  68. ^ "UFC on Fox 28 bonuses: Stephens, Latifi, Jouban, Saunders earn $50K awards". 2018-02-24.
  69. ^ "UFC 196 pre-fight facts". 2016-03-05.
  70. ^ "Superior Challenge 8 Results". 2012-10-06. Archived from the original on 2014-07-27.
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  73. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-11-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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External linksEdit