UFC on FUEL TV 9: "Mousasi vs. Latifi" goes down this Saturday (April 6, 2013) from Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
Supporting the main event is another extremely crucial bout; this time in the Bantamweight division as the world's No. 5-ranked 135-pound fighter Brad Pickett takes on No. 9-ranked Mike Easton in what should be a fan-friendly mixed martial arts (MMA) battle.
With the two bouts listed above garnering a lot of attention from both fans and media, it's time to break down what -- besides a paycheck -- a victory in Sweden on Saturday means for the four athletes carrying UFC on FUEL TV 9.
After years of fighting overseas and in rival organizations such as Strikeforce, the highly talented Gegard Mousasi will finally make his UFC debut in Sweden, and in the main event no less.
"The Dream Catcher" has been in the sport for a long time now despite being just 27 years old. He has fought and defeated several notable names in MMA competition and is also the former Strikeforce champion. Fans know Mousasi is world-class talent, but world class enough to fight and defeat the very best of the best?
That remains to be seen.
Mousasi will make his promotional debut against unknown Ilir Latifi, an unranked fighter who filled in for Alexander Gustafsson when "The Mauler" did not receive medical clearance for the bout because of a cut sustained in training.
Unfortunately for Mousasi, he is in a lose-lose situation.
If he comes in and obliterates Latifi, that is what was expected against an inferior opponent who took the fight on four days notice. If he loses, then people are seriously going to question if he is a UFC caliber fighter.
In the Gustafsson match up, Mousasi had so much to gain with a win. While victory is perhaps even more crucial than before, a win for Mousasi means he keeps his name "in the mix" at 205 pounds and can look forward to facing a Top 10 opponent as he was supposed to originally at UFC on FUEL TV 9.
In reality, Latifi is a winner regardless of if he lasts 15 seconds or 15 minutes against Mousasi on Saturday.
Latifi may get brutally finished, but he put himself in the good graces of fans, media and most importantly UFC brass by stepping in for Gustafsson on just four days' notice. Regardless of the outcome, "The Sledgehammer" will surely get another chance to fight in the world's premier MMA organization with a full training camp behind him.
And if he were to actually pull off the upset it would be a sensational story to witness.
The Swede's resume isn't particularly impressive and without this opportunity it's really hard to say when, or if, he would have made it to the UFC. No one is expecting Latifi to win, but if he does, it would mean huge things for his career and once again prove that anything can happen in the crazy sport of MMA.
Brad Pickett and Mike Easton
The stakes are essentially the same for both Pickett and Easton on Saturday: Win or fall out of the Bantamweight title picture for at least the next year.
Both men are coming off critical losses in their last bouts - Pickett to current interim 135-pound title challenger Eddie Wineland and Easton to Raphael Assunsao. However, despite the defeats, the two still remain in the Top 10 of the bantamweight rankings.
Even though the division is thin and it doesn't take much to get back to the top, suffering back-to-back losses is never a good thing and that's what's at stake for these competitors.
Several fights into their UFC stints, "One Punch" and "The Hulk" are becoming increasingly familiar names to the UFC audience, but they both lack that signature win over a name opponent needed to become a true contender.
Pickett can be that name for Easton and vice-versa.
Victory on Saturday means the most important win in either man's career to date and puts Pickett or Easton back in the bantamweight title mix.
What do you think a win means on Saturday for these four men? Let us know in the comments section below!