Latifi vs. Diabate set for UFC Fight Night in London on Mar. 8

Could Latifi be primed to shock the MMA world?
International Man Of Mystery: Sweden's Ilir Latif.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.


The UFC’s most infamous recent headliner will get another opportunity to make a name for himself in the promotion. Ilir Latifi, who stepped into a UFC On FUEL TV event in April on just a few days’ notice, is finally set for a return when he takes on Cyrille Diabate on March 8 in London.

The UFC announced the fight on Thursday.

Latifi made an unexpected debut on April 6 when original main-eventer Alexander Gutafsson was not allowed to participate due to a facial cut he suffered in a training session. That decision to disqualify Gustafsson -- made by the Swedish MMA Federation -- came just four days before the fight.

Latifi, who is a teammate of Gustafsson’s accepted the opportunity, but lost in a unanimous decision to Gegard Mousasi.

The loss dropped the 30-year-old’s record to 7-3 overall, and since then, he’s been rehabilitating a knee injury.

In Diabate, he’ll be taking on a striking specialist with a 19-9-1 record. In his last outing, which came against Jimi Manuwa, Diabate suffered an untimely calf injury that forced him to give up after the end of the first round. Prior to that, he’d won two straight.

Diabate just turned 40 years old.

The March 8, 2014 show is set for the 02 Arena in London. Gustafsson and Manuwa will face off in the main event, and for Gustafsson, a UFC light-heavyweight championship opportunity lies in the balance.

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