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UFC 196 results recap: Ilir Latifi vs Gian Villante fight review and analysis

Last night (Sat., March 5, 2016), Ilir Latifi and Gian Villante went to war at UFC 196 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a slow fight, Latifi won a clear decision victory. Find out how below!

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight sluggers Ilir Latifi and Gian Villante squared off last night (March 5, 2016) at UFC 196 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Despite debuting with a short-notice loss, Latifi has since established himself as an extremely dangerous fighter. The muscular Swede hits hard and has solid grappling base, making him a tough test for most in the division.

On the other hand, Villante has been in the division for some time but has struggled to put momentum together. That said, a win opposite "The Sledgehammer" would be a very big moment for VIllante that could carry him to greater things.

Villante opened up the bout with some very hard kicks, but Latifi used those strikes as an opportunity to close the distance into a takedown attempt. However, Villante defended and eventually moved back to the center, where he returned to ripping his opponent with kicks.

Before long, Latifi countered one of those kicks with a heavy right hand and followed up with some more damage in the clinch. At that distance, Latifi seemed to figure out his game plan, as he began forcing his way into the clinch and landing hard shots on the break.

It was likely enough to win Latifi the round, but he also took some hard kicks from his opponent.

After about a minute or so of eating kicks at range, Latifi managed to secure a back clinch and take VIllante for a ride. However, the New Yorker quickly scrambled back to his feet, though that exchange seemed to drain both men of some energy.

With both men tiring, Latifi did his best to push a pace, even if it was a very slow one. He also landed another big takedown at the end of the round, which likely sealed it for him.

Still, an energy burst from either man could really change the momentum up, as neither man was really taking control.

Neither fighter threw much, but Villante accomplished the first successful act of the third round by defending a deep takedown attempt. If the pace was slow in the second round, things were dreadfully tepid in the final frame.

Villante continued to walk forward through his exhaustion, but Latifi was the more effective fighter in the last round. Latifi scored with a few big punches that seemed to stun his opponent, and he scored with another takedown near the end of the round that his opponent answered with his own brief shot.

On the whole, Latifi's higher activity and bursts of offense won him this bout, and the judges recognized that.

This was an important win for Latifi, but it was a rather ugly one. While he won each round opposite the New Yorker, they were less than dominant, and Latifi appeared vulnerable at certain times.

Latifi's big issue is that he has no weapons at range. He tried a few spinning attacks, but they were less than effective. As a short ball of muscle, Latifi is not effective with kicks nor quick enough to slide in with punches and/or takedowns.

Against Villante, it caused him to eat some very hard kicks. Against elite fighters, it will cost him the victory unless he can figure out a solution.

Villante may have lost but to his credit, he did fight with an intelligent game plan. He didn't perform well enough to earn the victory, but at least he didn't throw away the fight with some type of terrible mistake.

The reason that Villante lost is simple, and it has nothing to do with his fighting skill. Villante had the kickboxing and takedown defense to keep range and punish his opponent, and he was on his way to doing that in the first round.

However, his cardio failed him.

That's not a new story for Villante, but it is disappointing. He has great athleticism and some solid skill, and he really should be a top 15 fighter at the very least.

Unfortunately, this is another step back from that goal.

Last night, Ilir Latifi outworked his opponent over three rounds. Where does the "Latdog" go from here?

For complete UFC 196: "McGregor vs Diaz" results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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