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UFC heavyweight admits to fighting with staph infection, gets suspended for his candor

Staph spreads easily through skin-to-skin contact and can result in serious medical complications if it enters the bloodstream, which is why Latifi is being disciplined for his choice to (quietly) compete with the infection.

UFC Fight Night London: Diabate v Latifi Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The show must go on ... unless you have staph infection.

That’s a lesson Ilir Latifi learned after drawing a suspension from Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), who benched the Swedish “Sledgehammer” in the wake of his unanimous decision victory over Aleksei Oleinik at UFC Vegas 61.

“I didn’t even tell my coaches, but I got a staph infection two days ago,” Latifi, 39, told Paul Fedler after the fight. As you can see, my leg is all swollen. It’s an amazing sport, but the margins are so small. You put in so much work, and this thing happens the last day. Today, actually when I woke up, my leg was swollen. I was like, ‘I can’t cancel again.’ So I had to fight like this with a fever and a staph infection. That’s part of being a fighter.”

The commission, which condemned Latifi’s “risky behavior,” will lift its temporary suspension after it comes to terms on disciplinary action for “The Sledgehammer,” according to MMA Junkie, which could equate to a fine or further suspension, or both.

The Oleinik win marked the final fight on Latifi’s UFC contract and it is not yet known if the former light heavyweight will re-up with the Endeavor gang or try his luck elsewhere. Before that happens, Latifi (16-8, 1 NC) will first have to settle his business with NSAC.

Expect to hear more on this in the next couple of days.

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