The UFC’s light heavyweight division has been dogged by controversy as of late so it was always going to be a welcome distraction when two of the division’s heavy hitters are paired together to battle it out for title contention.
Sweden’s Ilir Latifi (12-5) makes his return to the Octagon after more than a year out, having lost by devastating KO to the hands, or rather the knee, of Ryan Bader.
Latifi was on a rampage through the division, having breezed past three of his last five competitors to share the cage with him. Now, with a year out, Latifi is focused on regaining some of that momentum as he once again makes a charge for 205lb glory.
Latifi’s nickname “The Sledgehammer” is extremely fitting with three finishes coming by way of KO/TKO and is regarded as one of the division’s heaviest hitters.
25-year-old Australian Tyson Pedro (6-0) is no slouch and this young prospect looks to make the return to the Octagon for the third time, having made quick work of Scotland’s Paul Craig earlier this year with some vicious yet beautiful ground and pound.
Pedro has finished all six of his opponents to date in the third round. Pedro is an excellent submission specialist and is extremely powerful against the cage, which is what he will likely look to do when he faces Latifi on Saturday.
His power shots are no joke and he has a frightening quick right that is stiffer than any whiskey you can find.
Fight fans are no stranger to how Latifi likes to fight. He is a ferocious power striker who will almost certainly look to stay on the outside and look to throw that powerful overhand right of his.
What is often overlooked is that the Swede possesses very powerful kicks, which he may look to utilize early on to halt the movement of Pedro and make him think twice about closing the distance.
Pedro will almost certainly look to make this a close quarters fight and stifle the power of Latifi in the clinch against the cage. Getting inside is the tricky part, so look for him to attempt to catch one of Latifi’s power kicks to catch him off balance and initiate the clinch, leading to a sweep.
Pedro throws some very nasty knees while in the clinch also and will certainly look to aim big body blows to halt Latifi’s movement.
On paper, this is a very intriguing fight. Pedro has a ton of momentum behind him while Latifi is looking to return to winning ways having lost some of his.
A year away from the cage is a long time and Latifi’s cardio will need to be in peak condition to keep up with the pace that Pedro will look to place upon him.
Expect a very cagey affair with Latifi on the outside looking for big counter shots.
It will most likely be a grueling contest with the young Australian getting the nod in the end.
Tyson Pedro via Decision
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