After suffering back-to-back losses at Light Heavyweight, Ilir Latifi made the bold decision to enter the Heavyweight division ... even though “Sledgehammer” stands at just 5’10.” And UFC brass opted to throw him straight into the deep end, booking him opposite former title contender, Derrick Lewis, at UFC 247, which took place tonight (Sat., Feb. 8, 2020) inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Daniel Cormier he is not ... at least not tonight. But, Latifi put up a really solid fight against the No. 6-ranked Heavyweight fighter in the world, ultimately losing a unanimous decision.
Latifi came out a little cautious, while Lewis circled him, looking to unleash something solid. He missed, but his momentum led to a clinch along the cage. On the break, Lewis clipped him as Latifi motioned to his eye that perhaps it was a poke. The action continued regardless, with Lewis leaping in with a flying knee. Latifi defended it well and the two were right back in the clinch. He tried to lift Lewis’ leg and dump him on the mat, but “Black Beast” remained upright. Lewis landed a nice high kick on a restart, then another to the body, but Latifi seemed to just brush them off ... somehow. Lewis attempted another flying knee as the first round came to a close.
Lewis opened up the second stanza with a high switch kick, while Latifi countered with a low kick that appeared to irritate the Texan. Of course, Latifi went right back to it in the next exchange. Lewis attempted another flying knee, but Latifi ducked out of the way and the pair wound up clinched up along the cage. After some jockeying for position, Latifi was finally able to secure a body lock takedown. But, he was unable to do much of anything while on top in half guard, with the referee even warning him to get busy and eventually standing them up. Lewis threw another high kick on the restart and fired a shot straight down the middle, but Latifi ducked under, stepped aside and threw him down to the canvas just as the round ended.
Lewis opened up the third and final frame with a looping haymaker that missed its mark. He swooped in with another flying knee, but once again ended up in the arms of Latifi, who once again dumped him on the mat. Latifi peppered him with body shots from half guard, but nothing significant. Lewis eventually made his way back to his feet and he was angry, coming after Latifi with a purpose. Latifi, though, locked him back up and pushed him against the fence. After a quick trip back to the canvas, Lewis began to open up with huge shots. Latifi — checking the clock — was somehow able to weather the storm long enough to see the judges scorecards.
Latifi ate some huge shots down the stretch — he’s tough as nails. He fought a super smart fight, but in the end, it just wasn’t enough to topple “Black Beast.”
Remember that MMAmania.com is delivering LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 247 fight card RIGHT HERE! To check out the latest and greatest UFC 247: “Jones vs. Reyes” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.