Ilir Latifi will make the jump up to Heavyweight to face Derrick Lewis in main card action at UFC 247 on Feb. 8, 2020 in Houston, Texas. And if you thought “The Sledgehammer” taking on a former title contender in his 265-pound debut was a shocker, you’re not alone.
Lewis himself was surprised he got matchup up against Ilir. But it’s not because of resume comparison, but because of the height, and more importantly, weight difference.
“It was a real surprise that they chose Latifi because I believe that he was a small 205-er and for anything, he should have went down to 185 instead of coming up to heavyweight,” Lewis said during a recent media scrum in Las Vegas (via MMA Junkie).
“And I heard that he had called me out, and wanted to fight me, so it was a real surprise to me, that he wanted to pick the biggest guy in the division, like the fattest guy in the division.”
Lewis usually tips the scales at 265 pounds, which means Ilir will be giving up a lot of weight in the bout. Still, while “Black Beast” isn’t underestimating Latifi, he doesn’t feel he’ll bring anything different to the table.
“I know he’s an explosive guy, he’s a wrestler or what. I don’t think he’ll be any different than anyone else,” Lewis said.
Derrick was last seen taking out Blagoy Ivanov at UFC 244 last month, putting him back in the win column after two straight losses. Latifi, meanwhile, is currently riding a two fight losing streak, but hopes a change in weight classes will be just what the doctor ordered to turn his luck around.
UFC 247 will feature a Light Heavyweight title fight as division king, Jon Jones, takes on Dominick Reyes. In the co-headlining act, women’s Flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko will defend her title against Katlyn Chookagian.
To see who else is competing at UFC 247: “Jones vs Reyes” click here.