Ryan “Darth” Bader and “The Sledgehammer” Ilir Latifi will meet on the main card of UFC Fight Night 93 in Hamburg, Germany this weekend and it promises to be a barn-burner.
Latifi is currently 5-2 in the UFC while Bader is 13-5. It's obvious which opponent will have more experience coming in on Saturday, but how will the fight go?
This is a wrestler vs. striker matchup, but Latifi has recently been adding to his wrestling arsenal and Bader has constantly been working on his stand up. Ryan Bader has found himself a lot of success in the UFC, but each time he has been in a slot for a number 1 contender fight he has found himself on the losing end. Before his loss to Anthony Johnson, Bader was riding a 5-fight winning streak. During that streak, Bader was able to land 21 takedowns and out-wrestle other prestigious wrestlers in the division.
In Bader’s last fight, he shot in for a takedown right away, but Anthony Johnson was able to sprawl and punished him for his efforts. Currently, Ryan Bader is ranked #4 in the division, with wins over 4 fighters in the top 15.
This fight will be Latifi’s toughest matchup, but many people believe he will be able to stop the takedown attempts from Bader. Out of his 7 fights in the UFC, none of Latifi’s opponents have been able to bring the Sweden native to the ground. Latifi made his UFC debut on short notice when training partner Alexander Gustafsson was pulled from the main event. Latifi stepped up against Gegard Mousasi but lost via unanimous decision.
Since Latifi will be the shorter opponent, by 6 inches, look for him to close the distance and attack Bader. The only problem issue with that is the closer that he gets to Bader, the better of a chance the American will have to bring him to the ground.
When the fight begins, Bader will probably start off slow and a little hesitant, because the way his last fight had gone. Ryan Bader has never lost a fight that went to the scorecards and hasn't earned a stoppage victory since the beginning of 2013. Even though Bader's striking has improved over the past couple of years, standing with Latifi will not be wise for the American wrestler.
If Bader is able to take Latifi down in the first round, I believe it will be a long night for the European. Standing at just 5’8, Latifi is as solid as they come. Having to carry around that much muscle will take its toll on your cardio, and look for Bader to try and constantly drag Latifi to the ground.
Even though the Swede has had success in previous fights where he was able to keep the fight standing, he has yet to face someone with the wrestling credentials that Bader has. Latifi has also found success with leg kicks in previous fights, but will probably stay away from that game plan against the wrestler. Look for Latifi to punish early on the feet, and force Bader to shoot in for a “Hail Mary” takedown attempt. We have seen what happens when Bader doesn’t want to get hit, and you can be sure that Latifi has been working on his sprawls.
Bader has proven in the past that he is able to contend with the best, but you don't wanna get caught sleeping on Ilir Latifi. Bader will learn why Latifi's nickname is “The Sledgehammer”. After Saturday night, Latifi will continue his rise up the light heavyweight rankings, and continue his win streak to 4.
Prediction: Ilir Latifi via Second Round TKO
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